Dr. David Scheiner, former physician to Barack Obama before his presidency, recently opined on Democrats’ chances in the 2020 election, as well as the age of the left’s most prominent candidates, which he believes could pose a serious problem.
“I think we’re asking for trouble,” said Dr. Scheiner in regards to the multitude of Democrat candidates over the age of seventy. “We don’t know what their health is. They look spry, but I don’t think that’s enough.”
Dr. Scheiner added, “You can’t accept it at face value.”
Now, with former Vice President Joe Biden joining the already-crowded pool of Democrats looking to challenge President Trump in the upcoming election, six of the twenty Democrats seeking the party’s nomination are at the seventy-year mark.
With the divide among older and younger members of the Democratic Party growing more pronounced, the issues of both age and race are set to play a far more determining role in the left’s decision to back a candidate.
The entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden into the 2020 White House race adds yet another septuagenarian into the crowded field of contenders.
Of the 20 Democrats and two Republicans who are running for president, six are nearing or over the age of 70.
If Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wins, he would be 79 by the time he reaches the White House, becoming the oldest president in history; Ronald Reagan was 77 years and 349 days on the day he left office. President Trump, who turns 73 this summer and has long batted back scrutiny about his health, is the oldest president when first sworn in.
The other older Democrats are Biden, who would be 78 when first sworn in, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who would be 71, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who would turn 70 shortly after being sworn in. Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor challenging Trump for the GOP nomination, would be 75.
“I think we’re asking for trouble,” Dr. David Scheiner, who was Barack Obama’s doctor for more than two decades before Obama became president, said of the number of older candidates in the race. “We don’t know what their health is. They look spry but I don’t think that’s enough. You can’t accept it at face value.”
Candidates who are older are more likely to face scrutiny about their health. According to the Social Security Administration, men who have reached age 70 can expect to live roughly 15 more years, and women can expect to live about 17 more years, but lifestyle and health factors can shift the calculus. And as people get older, the probability of illness, disability, and death increases, as do the chances of cognitive impairment.
In past elections, candidates have weaponized opponents’ ages, either to argue that they lack experience or, alternatively, that they are too old to take on the grueling work of running for office and eventually running the country.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton drew widespread scrutiny after she stumbled at a 9/11 Memorial event. Her staff later said she had pneumonia, but Trump said that she “doesn’t have the stamina” to be president.