Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Sunday that Nikki Haley calling for competency tests for office was “absurd” and ageist.
Haley, 51, made the call when announcing her presidential bid in South Carolina last week. But Sanders, an 81-year-old former presidential candidate himself, told CBS News on Sunday that voters could determine a candidate’s competency by looking at them, and should focus on ideas over age.
“You know, we are fighting racism, we’re fighting sexism, we’re fighting homophobia, I think we should also be fighting ageism,” Sanders said. “Trust people, look at people and say, you know, this person is competent, this person is not competent. There are a lot of 40-year-olds out there who ain’t particularly competent.”
.@SenSanders says 2024 GOP presidential candidate @NikkiHaley’s proposal for a mandatory mental competency test for politicians older than 75 is “absurd.”
“We are fighting racism, we're fighting sexism, we're fighting homophobia, I think we should also be fighting ageism.” pic.twitter.com/MsRDL71VCA
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) February 19, 2023
During her first rally in Charleston, SC on Wednesday, Haley decried career politicians and the gerontocracy in American politics. “In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,” Haley said. “We’ll have term limits for Congress and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
Haley has centered her campaign on ushering in a “new generation” of younger conservative leaders.
Haley’s comment previously drew an offensive rebuke from CNN’s Don Lemon, who said accused women in their mid-to-late 40s of being past their prime. Lemon quickly apologized and backtracked, but Haley fired back on Twitter.
“To be clear, I am NOT calling for competency tests for Sexist middle-aged CNN anchors; only for people who make our laws and are 75+,” Haley tweeted Thursday.