Nikki Haley, the newly minted Republican presidential candidate, called on Wednesday for mandatory “mental competency tests” for politicians older than 75, an implied dig at President Biden and her onetime boss, former President Trump.
Speaking at a rally in Charleston, S.C., kicking off her 2024 White House bid, Haley ran through a litany of political promises, including enacting term limits for members of Congress and cracking down on illegal immigration.
But it was a vow to impose mandatory cognitive tests on older officeholders that underscored the central message of her campaign: that the United States needs a younger leader after previously electing two of the oldest men to ever occupy the White House.
“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.”
Her remarks reflect a growing sentiment within both parties that their standard-bearers — Biden in the Democrats’ case, and Trump for Republicans — are simply too old to continue on in the White House. Trump would be 78 by the time he’d be hypothetically sworn in again as president, while Biden would be 82.
Republicans in particular have repeatedly questioned Biden’s cognitive state, seizing on a series of gaffes to argue that he’s not mentally fit to serve in the White House.
Haley announced her campaign on Tuesday in a video posted online, becoming the first major Republican to mount a challenge to Trump, who is once again seeking the GOP’s presidential nod. She’s expected to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold Republican nominating contests, later this week.
While Haley may be one of the first 2024 candidates out of the gate, she still faces a rocky path to securing her party’s nomination. For the time being, Trump remains the GOP contest’s ostensible front-runner, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be the most viable alternative. Haley’s support, meanwhile, is mired in the single digits.