With the three leading candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination having a combined age of 225 — and another candidate in his 30s — the question of age, which had been skirted in previous debates, finally arrived front and center at the party’s presidential debate in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
And the septuagenarian politicians on stage handled it with humor.
Bernie Sanders, 78, was first.
One of the debate’s moderators, Politico’s Tim Alberta, noted that former President Barack Obama recently said that in politics, old white men are reluctant to make room for younger, more diverse candidates.
“Senator Sanders, you are the oldest candidate on the stage,” Alberta said.
“And I’m white as well,” Sanders joked, before pivoting to issues the Vermont senator thought were more important: wealth inequality, health care and climate change.
“The issue is not old, or young, male or female,” he said. “The issue is working people standing up, taking on the billionaire class and creating a government and economy that works for all.”
Alberta turned to former Vice President Joe Biden, who said he was guessing Obama “wasn’t talking about me.”
“Look, I’m running because I’ve been around,” he said. “With experience hopefully comes judgment and a little bit of wisdom.” (Biden joked that he would be older than Winston Churchill, who was 76 when he became prime minister.)
But the 77-year-old ducked a question about whether he would run for a second term if he wins next year.
“No, I’m not willing to commit one way or the other,” Biden said. “Here’s the deal: I’m not even elected to one term yet. Let’s see where we are. Let’s see what happens.”
Warren, the youngest of the three at 70, would still be the oldest president ever inaugurated. President Trump is 73.
“I’d also be the youngest woman ever inaugurated,” Warren quipped, drawing perhaps the biggest applause of the evening.
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