Contributor Post Created with Sketch. An Age-Appropriate Republican in 2016?

 

shutterstock_180967037I had a column in the Sacramento Bee last week posing a simple question: is 2016 an opportunity for the GOP to break with its recent pattern of presidential nominees and go instead with a candidate in his or her 40s? My thinking:

— A party that started out by choosing relatively young nominees (California’s John C. Fremont was all of 43 when he became the first Republican presidential nominee in 1856; Abraham Lincoln, next up in 1860, was 51), has gone gray. Mitt Romney was 65 when he lost to President Obama in 2012. Before him: John McCain, age 72; George W. Bush, age 54; Bob Dole, age 73. That’s an average age of 66 — or, roughly the midway point between George H. W. Bush, age 64, and Ronald Reagan, age 69.

Now, the Democratic numbers: Barack Obama was 47 in 2008; John Kerry, age 60; Al Gore, age 52 in 2000; Bill Clinton, age 46 in 1992. That’s averages out to 51.25 years.

Why the interest in gerontology? The Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama presidencies mark the first time since the first quarter of the 19th Century that America has seen three consecutive two-term administrations. In addition to their Ivy League pedigrees and losing control of Congress, 42/43/44 share this: they were parents, not grandparents, while seeking the job; none qualified for a senior discount at the time of their election.

In theory, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (he turns 44 at the end of May) and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (he turned 47 last November), fit this post-Cold War profile of younger, child-rearing presidents (Walker has two college-age sons; Rubio has two sons and two daughters, none old enough to drive).

Further arguments for a more youthful Republican:

— In every presidential election dating back to Clinton’s first win in 1992, the younger of the two nominees has won the popular vote (that includes Al Gore in 2000). That doesn’t bode well for Hillary Clinton, who tuns 69 just two weeks before Election Day 2016 (Elizabeth Warren would be 67, if you’re looking for an alternative).

The last time the Democrats went with a first-time nominee of like age? Try James Buchanan, who was 65 in 1856 and, like Mrs. Clinton, a former U.S. senator and Secretary of State – and the consensus choice for the worst president in U.S. history.

This isn’t to suggest that age automatically settles our choice of a 45th president. However, in a Rubio-Clinton matchup, a 24-year age gap working against the Democratic nominee would give the GOP’s choice a rare opportunity to share common life experiences with 40-something voters – something a younger President Obama twice used to his advantage (well, three times, if you include his run against Mrs. Clinton in 2008). And maybe burrow into some of that generation’s fears and frustrations (roller-coaster economies; housing costs; Boomers who won’t retire early).

As for the Democrats’ nominee-in-waiting, it could make for tricky choices. Would Mrs. Clinton run as an Americanized version of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who offers herself as a no-nonsense Mutti (or “mommy”) steering her nation through uncertain European times? How would voters react to a hip grandmother with an affinity for modern technology (does any other candidate know more about home servers and data storage?)?

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  1. Profile Photo Member

    I think part of the appeal of youth is that your record is not as long, so you are not hurt as much the shifting political wins. For example, Hillary’s Iraq War vote came back to hurt her in 2008. And although Bob Dole was trying to pretend to be a Reagan-style conservative in 1996, everybody knew he wasn’t. (Which in its own way is kind of sad, because it was finally “his turn” and he couldn’t run as himself. Not that preferred those policies, although I admire his wicked sense of humor.)

    To mix metaphors, everyone likes fresh faces because they don’t carry baggage of the past.

    • #1
    • March 17, 2015, at 11:31 AM PDT
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  2. Squishy Blue RINO Inactive

    Nobody wants eight years of this:

    SSG24951

    Turnt gimps like Lanny Davis and James Carville notwithstanding, nobody is eager to play Pip to her Miss Havershim. Not Andrea Mitchell, Not Mika BabeBrzezinski, not even the frozen head of Norman Lear, which is rumored to be calling for Fauxcahontas over Greybeard (come on, you just know those drunks would call her that).

    In the language of presidential politics, Marco Rubio is shorthand for “¡No Mas, no me gusta esta Vieja Sangrona!”

    Y’all know what I’m talking about.

    • #2
    • March 17, 2015, at 2:06 PM PDT
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  3. Jeff Smith Inactive

    One of the advantages the Big O has is his Game Show Host attributes; bounding up to the podium with his Carnival Barker (

    Editor's Note:

    Automatically redacted for Code of Conduct violation: Obscenities and vulgarities.

    If you are the author, you can edit this and remove the offending word. This is an automatic filter and does not reflect editorial judgment.

    eating?) Grin.
    Can any daytime TV viewer resist?

    • #3
    • March 17, 2015, at 2:09 PM PDT
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  4. Jim Kearney Contributor

    You’re asking the right question, Bill, and I like your answer too.

    Rubio has a first generation American’s additional advantage of a hopeful vision. He inspires idealism, but with a Cuban-American’s informed wariness of ideals misdirected by collectivist ideology.

    For that reason he and Cruz are the potential leaders I most trust to hit firmly on the “undo” button for all that Obama wrought upon our country.

    • #4
    • March 17, 2015, at 3:16 PM PDT
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  5. Leigh Member

    I didn’t realize Walker was only three years older than Rubio.

    I suppose the advantage depends on the personality match-up between the candidates. Paul Ryan is one of the most well-spoken people in American politics, and conveys “youthfulness” as well as Rubio. That should be an advantage, but somehow against Biden it wasn’t. And I think someone who looked like a young know-it-all could come across badly in competition with an older female candidate.

    I don’t think that would be a problem for either Rubio or Walker. Walker doesn’t come across as “youthful” in the same sense. Rubio is eloquent. It would probably be a political plus, and definitely is in comparison to Bush.

    • #5
    • March 17, 2015, at 5:34 PM PDT
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  6. Eustace C. Scrubb Member

    No Jeb? No argument here.

    • #6
    • March 17, 2015, at 7:31 PM PDT
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  7. J. D. Fitzpatrick Member
    J. D. Fitzpatrick Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Louie Mungaray (Squishy Blue RINO):Nobody wants eight years of this:

    SSG24951

    Turnt gimps like Lanny Davis and James Carville notwithstanding, nobody is eager to play Pip to her Miss Havershim. Not Andrea Mitchell, Not Mika BabeBrzezinski, not even the frozen head of Norman Lear, which is rumored to be calling for Fauxcahontas over Greybeard (come on, you just know those drunks would call her that).

    In the language of presidential politics, Marco Rubio is shorthand for “¡No Mas, no me gusta esta Vieja Sangrona!”

    Y’all know what I’m talking about.

    I’m pretty sure Hillary has the South Park version of Great Expectations planned out, complete with tear-powered Genesis device and robotic monkeys.

    Which is to say, no, we don’t want eight years of that.

    • #7
    • March 18, 2015, at 1:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  8. Squishy Blue RINO Inactive

    J. D. Fitzpatrick:

    Louie Mungaray (Squishy Blue RINO):Nobody wants eight years of this:

    SSG24951

    Turnt gimps like Lanny Davis and James Carville notwithstanding, nobody is eager to play Pip to her Miss Havershim. Not Andrea Mitchell, Not Mika BabeBrzezinski, not even the frozen head of Norman Lear, which is rumored to be calling for Fauxcahontas over Greybeard (come on, you just know those drunks would call her that).

    In the language of presidential politics, Marco Rubio is shorthand for “¡No Mas, no me gusta esta Vieja Sangrona!”

    Y’all know what I’m talking about.

    I’m pretty sure Hillary has the South Park version of Great Expectations planned out, complete with tear-powered Genesis device and robotic monkeys.

    Which is to say, no, we don’t want eight years of that.

    I would pay good money to watch that.

    • #8
    • March 18, 2015, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. TKC1101 Inactive

    The winning attribute to beat Hillary will be for the GOP to get a candidate who makes people feel that they want their vote and are willing to work for it. Hillary is coming off as entitled and she’s no Bill. Young helps, positive helps, but mostly hustling and talking to real voters will help.

    • #9
    • March 19, 2015, at 2:10 AM PDT
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