Watch out, mid-to-upper seventies. Newly minted GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley has questions about your mental acuity!
The South Carolina governor and former UN ambassador formally launched her campaign Wednesday with, among other things, a call for “mandatory mental competence tests for politicians over the age of 75.”
That line was certainly meant to please Republicans who have convinced themselves that 80-year-old President Joe Biden is senile (while also being a scheming criminal and an all-powerful leftist single-handedly transforming America into a socialist hellscape). But it was also a shot at 76-year-old former President Donald Trump, also a candidate, and at a significant portion of the GOP’s most trusted voters.
A Pew Research Center survey of the 2020 presidential election found that voters aged 75 to 92 were the only ones who clearly favored Trump over Biden, at 58% to 42%.
As a liberal, I understand why you might want to check the mental competence of everyone who supported Trump, but from a strategic point of view it seems unwise to launch your Republican campaign with a heavy dose of ageism.
Haley 2024 – Unwise!
Of course “unwise!” might as well be Haley’s campaign slogan, as a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found she is supported by a whopping 4% of registered Republicans. And that was before she suggested that people in their mid-seventies might be incompetent.
In her speech, Haley called for “a new generation of leadership” as she recited what sounded like “Every Republican talking point in the last 40 years” Mad Lib.
South Carolina governor and GOP presidential candidate declare racism is over!
Haley, the first woman of color to run for the Republican presidential nomination, stated that America is “not a racist country.” As she said that Wednesday, a white man in Buffalo was sentenced to life in prison for killing 10 people in a racist mass shooting, admitting at sentencing, “I shot and killed people because they were black.”
Between that, an increase in antisemitism and the fact that, according to Gallup poll, 64% of Americans “believe racism against black people is widespread” in the United States, I’d say the jury is still out on that whole thing “racist country” thing.
Hello, I’m Nikki Haley, and I’m not as old as some people
But all the stupid talk aside, Haley made it clear that she’s going to use her age to gain an advantage in the primary race. At age 51, she’s 24 years away from the kind of mental competency test she proposed, a fact I’m sure will weigh heavily on the minds of voters who believe the average 75-year-old should be let loose on an ice floe.
You can now see the political ads: “Hi, I’m Nikki Haley. Are you ready for a new generation of leadership? Do you think politicians like Joe Biden and my former boss who I would never insult, Donald Trump, should be sent north to grow pancakes and catch butterflies? Do you want a president who has the guts to look your pop-pop or mee-maw in the eye and say, “You’ve reached a random age, so I no longer think your brain is working properly”? If so, and if you are under 75 years old, I ask for your vote.”
I can almost feel the Haley mentality already. (If you’re over 75 and not feeling the Haley Mentum, get a mental competence test right away.)
Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook facebook.com/RexIsAJerk.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nikki Haley formally launches GOP presidential campaign