BLOW HARD

If Donald Trump wins the US election, he’ll be the most elderly new president ever

Obsession
2016
Obsession
2016

Welcome to your seventies, Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee turns 70 years old today—an age that would make him the most elderly president at his first inauguration in US history, if he is sworn in next January.

Ronald Reagan was nearly 70, at 69 years and 349 days, but Trump would best him by about seven months. The presumptive Democratic party nominee, Hillary Clinton, would be a few months younger than Reagan was. (Her primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, will be 75 by January.):

President Age at first inauguration
Donald Trump 70 years, 220 days
Ronald Reagan 69 years, 349 days
Hillary Clinton 69 years, 86 days
William Henry Harrison 68 years, 23 days
James Buchanan 65 years, 315 days
George H. W. Bush 64 years, 222 days
Zachary Taylor 64 years, 100 days
Dwight D. Eisenhower 62 years, 98 days
Andrew Jackson 61 years, 354 days
John Adams 61 years, 125 days
Gerald Ford 61 years, 26 days
Harry S. Truman 60 years, 339 days
James Monroe 58 years, 310 days
James Madison 57 years, 353 days
Thomas Jefferson 57 years, 325 days

Does age matter in a president? The question has been debated in the US for decades, and came up when Reagan first ran for president, and again when he ran, successfully, for a second term. In 1983, James Reston asked in the New York Times:

The problem in the next few years is to concentrate on the young men who are coming rather than the old men who are going. Mr. Reagan has performed a valiant service to the country. He has challenged the assumptions of the Democrats and the welfare state, which was useful, but he has imposed his own ideology of his old age, which has not been very successful.

Do we really want to go on with these old men—the Reagans, the Tip O’Neills, the Cranstons—and the old conflicts between the parties, the regions, the races, management and labor—or do we want to look to younger men who see the possibilities of a different world in terms of cooperation rather than confrontation?

Age, they say, is only a number, but in some respects Trump already seems older than his 70 years. Reagan’s relatively inclusive rhetoric on immigration makes him seem youthful and forward-looking compared to Trump, who seems to be trying to invoke a “Greatest Generation” that he never actually participated in.

For the astrology-minded, Trump’s birth date and place of birth (Queens, New York) indicate a competitive, potentially quarrelsome personality, the political astrology website Stars Over Washington says, and someone who may have a “chip on his shoulder.”

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