It's no secret Republicans are worried about Hillary Clinton earning the 2016 Democratic nomination and steamrolling the fresh-faced crop of candidates they have lined up, so it's no surprise that Republicans are already reminding everyone that she is, in fact, quite old. Yes, that's the latest Republican strategy against Hillary Clinton's oft-theorized Presidential run.
"The 2016 election may be far off, but one theme is becoming clear: Republican strategists and presidential hopefuls, in ways subtle and overt, are eager to focus a spotlight on Mrs. Clinton’s age," writes The New York Times' Jonathan Martin. Everyone from Mitch McConnell to Scott Walker to Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney's old lieutenant, have gone out of their way to remind crowds recently that Clinton is 65 years old right now. By the time 2016 rolls around, she'll be 70 years old. That's so many years old. And when you compare Clinton's age to the relatively ripe crop of stars expected to contend for the Republican nomination -- Bobby Jindal (42); Marco Rubio (42); Walker (45); Rand Paul (50); Chris Christie (50) -- well, the Republicans kind of have a point.
It's not the first time Clinton has faced an attack over her age, either. She's been called wrinkly and dowdy by the Republican press in the past. Her pantsuits -- those precious pantsuits! -- have been the target of Republican criticisms before. They've drawn attention to Clinton's wrinkles and crevices, her needing a rest, while she was flying across the world, leaning in and having it all as Secretary of State.
Now you're probably thinking, this is all a little rich, no? It was only last year that Barack Obama, 51 years young, soundly defeated the card carrying senior citizen Mitt Romney. Four years before, it was hope-y, change-y 46-year-old Obama who took out the balding, white-haired John McCain.
Update: The Atlantic Wire's Philip Bump prepared this graph showing the age of each Republican nominee in the last 20 years, along with Clinton in 2016. Bush was by far the youngest of the bunch:
The script has flipped just so in the intervening years. The Republicans were regrouping and looking young while the Democrats were waiting on the older, experienced powerhouse waiting in the wings. But, perhaps in the most ironic twist, this "you're old" strategy is exactly what Bill Clinton used when he was elected President, too:
A yesterday-versus-tomorrow argument against a woman who could be the last major-party presidential nominee from the onset of the baby boom generation would be a historically rich turnabout. It was Mrs. Clinton’s husband, then a 46-year-old Arkansas governor, who in 1992 put a fellow young Southerner on the Democratic ticket and implicitly cast the first President George Bush as a cold war relic, ill equipped to address the challenges of a new day. Mr. Clinton then did much the same to Bob Dole, a former senator and World War II veteran, in 1996.
So you can't say the tactic isn't tried and true. But it all adds up to a full course of obstacles facing Clinton heading into 2016. Besides attempting to become the first woman elected President, Clinton will have to overcome being old and, as The Atlantic Wire's Elspeth Reeve explained, quite short. The diminutive Clinton is an inch shorter than Rand Paul, the shortest of the Republican candidates, and America historically does not elect short people. She does have one advantage, though: her hair and heels give her the inches to play on an equal field with Christie, her tallest potential foe.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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