If elected president, Nikki Haley says she will seek mental competency tests for federal elected officials over 75 years of age.
What You Need To Know
- If elected president, Nikki Haley says she will seek mental competency tests for federal elected officials over 75 years of age
- The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations’ proposal is receiving pushback from older lawmakers, but not from all
- Asked about Haley's proposal Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, despite his age, Biden has met the arduous demands of his job and delivered major legislative victories
- The Trump campaign did not respond to an email Thursday seeking comment
“In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,” Haley said Wednesday during a speech in Columbia, South Carolina, launching her White House bid. “We’ll have term limits for Congress and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old."
The comments drew applause from Haley's supporters.
"America is not past its prime; it's just that our politicians are past theirs,” the 51-year-old Republican later added.
The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations’ proposal is receiving pushback from older lawmakers, but not from all.
Sixteen U.S. senators and 36 House members are 75 or older, accounting for about one-tenth of Congress. Joe Biden, 80, is the oldest sitting president in U.S. history. And former President Donald Trump, who is running for the White House again in 2024, is 76.
Republicans, including Trump, have raised questions about Biden’s mental competency since he ran for president in 2020, focusing largely on the times he has stumbled over words or names in speeches.
And some Democrats suggested Trump was mentally unfit to serve as president and called on his Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove him. Trump has made his own share of speaking gaffes, including forgetting the names of a candidate he endorsed and his own social media app.
Haley was asked in an interview with Fox News on Thursday how she thought Trump might fare on a mental competency exam.
“I think he did great the last time he did it,” she said. “I have no reason to think he wouldn't do well this time. But I do think we need it.”
Haley likely was referring to a cognitive test Trump boasted about passing in 2020 during a physical exam he took two years earlier. That test is designed to detect mild cognitive impairment, such as the onset of dementia. It’s not clear if the test Haley is proposing would be similar.
Haley, however, stressed she believes the tests are needed “across the board.”
“I don't think it's for president. I think you look at Congress. Look at all the members of Congress,” the former South Carolina governor said. “You have to start doing this for our elected officials. When people send someone to Washington, they need to know they're at the top of their game.”
The Trump campaign did not respond to an email Thursday seeking comment about Haley’s proposal.
Asked about it Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, despite his age, Biden has met the arduous demands of his job and delivered major legislative victories, including packages addressing pandemic recovery, infrastructure, climate change and health care.
"The president always says this, which is watch him,” Jean-Pierre said. “And if you watch him, you'll see that he has a grueling schedule that he keeps up with, that sometimes some of us are not able to keep up with. [At the] State of the Union, I believe he spent 90 minutes speaking to congressional members in front of him, to the American people. After that, he spent an hour shaking hands and saying hello and greeting the congressional members and their guests.”
Biden has said he intends to seek reelection but has not announced a 2024 run.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, 89, told Insider that voters can decide for themselves whether a candidate has the mental acuity to do the job.
“I think you need to look at my last election," said Grassley, the oldest Republican in Congress. “People knew me and my age, and I won by 15% [actually 13%]. The people know that I'm in a position to do the work.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, 75, told Insider she thinks Haley should test her own mental competency.
"Come on, how many times has she said she's fighting Trump, and then the next thing you know, she's kissing his ring?" Hirono said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, 75, said he would not have a problem with taking such a test.
Spectrum News reached out to AARP for comment on Haley’s proposal. The nonprofit group, which focuses on issues related to aging Americans, shared a November 2022 statement from Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond that it said is its standing position.
“A candidate’s qualifications, ability, and stance on the issues is what matters — not the year they were born,” LeaMond said. “Making sweeping judgments based on identifiers like race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and disability is not acceptable. It should also be unacceptable to discriminate based on age.”