October 9th, 2008
11:20 AM ET

Does age matter at the White House?

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about double standards when it comes to the health of the presidential candidates. An ad from the group Brave New Films that ran in the New York Times called for Sen. John McCain to release all his medical records to the public, not just journalists. McCain campaign officials told us this was a double standard, reminding us that Sen. Barack Obama released only a one-page summary, basically stating he was in excellent health.

But, when it comes to double standards, there is something else worth considering. We have retirement ages for many different professions in this country. CEOs at many large companies including American Airlines, Boeing and Exxon are required to step down at 65. Airline pilots, for example, must retire at 65, a limit set by Congress. Generals and admirals in the U.S. military face a mandatory retirement age of 64, even though their commander-in-chief does not. As we all know, there is no mandatory retirement age for president.

Over the last several months, we have been looking into what it takes to be “Fit to Lead.” No doubt, we have seen McCain for the last 18 months tirelessly campaigning and certainly being more active than most people half his age. I have gone to sleep watching him on television and there he is again, when I wake up. Some say that should be evidence enough his stamina to lead the country. As we have blogged about in the past, cancer is the foremost issue for him, but his own doctors have given him an unequivocal thumbs up.

Ronald Reagan was our oldest president: He was 77, at the end of his second term. At 72, McCain would be the oldest ever sworn in as a first term president. But, Golda Meir was prime minister of Israel until she was 76. French President Charles de Gaulle was 78. And, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was 80.

So, does age matter? Should there be an age limit for our leaders?

Programming note: Don’t miss CNN Special Investigations Unit “Fit to Lead” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

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soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Dr. Gupta,
    I think age does matter. My father, who is his mid 70's agrees. It's not a matter of physical health. He brings up that it's a matter of mental acuity. He is in great physical health, but realizes that in the 70's, the mind is no longer at the peak of performance. It's a normal part of the aging process. Reaction times slow, complex and multi-threaded thinking processes slow down and become more difficult. Many factors influence this degradation. Stress is a significant component, and needless to say, the Presidency is about as stressful as it gets.
    Interview people in their mid-70's and I think they will agree that they're not at the top of their game anymore. That doesn't imply that they are less smart; only that in time of crisis or at a time with multiple complex issues, there funtioning will not be as fast, they are more likely to be overwhelmed, and perhaps there is a higher likelyhood of mistakes.

    On another note; you have had a chance to examine Mr. McCain's medical records. I've noticed that his left jaw and cheek are not just swollen, but quite lumpy and misshapen compared to photos from 4 years ago. I know that he had extensive multiple surgeries on the left side to remove tumors. Is this ongoing issue in the cheek and jaw caused by removed tumor(s) or is this indicative that there are possible un-addressed issues?
    I've known people who have died from melenoma, and seeing the extensive work done on Mr. McCain tells me that his was quite invasive and had spread deeply. That, in my experience is not a good sign regarding his long term outlook; regardless of what his doctors release to the press. I'd appreciate a candid evaluation.

    October 9, 2008 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Anita

    Yes, age should matter regarding the President of the United States.
    We all witnessed Ronald Regan and the beginnings of Alzheimer's disease. Even tho' John McCain is 72, it APPEARS that he is already showing the beginning signs of the same disease. I know what a terrible disease this is as I watched my mother with it, and would not wish it on anyone. However, that being said, it is not fair that other people run interference for McCain and end up having responsibility for our country. And while we are on the subject, it would be wise to have a report on the candidates mental health as well as their physical health. Often mental health trumps physical health. I am not trying to be disrespectful of Senator McCain in any way– maybe he is just getting forgetful. Whatever the cause, it is not a matter to be taken lightly.

    October 9, 2008 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. js....santee

    First I am 55,
    I think old dude needs to retire. He has money. Let him serve his country in other ways. I am looking forward to the next generations taking over. They are global cititzens who get it. It is time for them to take the tools that they have created and get this country going in a new direction. We cannot remain the same. We cannot use the same energy sources, we cannot have the same financial step ladder, and we cannot have the same tired old men "let's not change anything" attitude." This country needs to prepare itself to live in a global economy. We need to become the leaders in new clean energy. The "drill baby drill" and " let's nuke em" days should be over. It's time to let the new innovators step up and not only help our country create a new economy but offer it to the rest of the world. It's over....we are not the best at everything but we had better get good at something.

    October 9, 2008 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. clarence jonesville

    Age matters in everything,you have to pay attention to your physical as well as your mental attitude. You can easily fool yourself while trying to fool others,your peers will help you fool oneself,putting ideas in your head that you can do all this,and you will try it to prove them right.But you are killing yourself.With mccain health issues he is border line now and if he was to win this election with his side kick palin this country would be up for grabs from any forgein country.So mccain since you are at retirement age do the country justice do it and let your sidekick go back to her spot to see Russia

    October 9, 2008 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Marvin E.

    Has anyone been able to obtain John McCain's military medical information or is it still under seal? I have older friends who were in Vietnam, two were POW's, and they think McCain suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and also that his records were sealed so he could return to flight status. Does anyone know for sure?

    October 9, 2008 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Pat

    Dr Gupta:

    Thank you for speaking to this issue. I am sure it is a concern to many voters.

    I firmly believe that age matters greatly regarding the position of President as well, as CEO's, Pilots and Generals. Good Grief your a Doctor, you must agree, as you know much more than I about the various ways our bodies change with aging. There should be a mandatory law regarding the Presidency and it should be 60 or 65 yrs.

    However, my greatest concern is the changes that take place with minds and mental acuity is my most grave issue regarding McCain's Nomination. I am 57yrs. and I have noticed a decrease in memory. Stress I've been told is a mind/brain zapper. We all know how stressful the position of President can be. And I really don't believe that eating more fish will do McCain much good at his present age!

    And then lets' add his Cancer. Sure his Doctor gave him a Thumbs Up but my cousin's Dr. gave her a Thumbs up too and we buried her three months later! If any misfortune should befall McCain and PALIN has to take over – GOD HELP US ALL. She is best example of "Out To Lunch" I've ever run across surpassing even George and Dick. Thank You.

    October 9, 2008 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Terra Hoskins

    I don't think you can make sweeping generalizations about age because people don't "deteriorate" the same way or at the same rate. At 65, my father can out walk me to the point that I'm in the fetal position on the hiking path. And I've known people in their 90s who are still sharp as a tack.

    Perhaps we should be more concerned with where people are at in the aging process and how they are functioning. Leave it to the physicians and professionals to make the call.

    October 9, 2008 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Anonymous from Atlanta

    Dr. Gupta,

    I believe that both candidates should have an unbiased, independent group of physicians review both candidate's medical records and provide a comprehensive summary of their current fitness, health risks, and life expectancy.

    Regarding your report "Fit to be President?", I wish you would've clarified that Senator McCain allowed journalists only a couple hours to view about 1,100 pages of medical records. You said "glimpse" during the report, which is inadequate.

    October 9, 2008 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Robert

    Age doesn't matter. I definitely think McCain is fit to be president for 4 years. He looks pretty sharp to me at all his debates.

    October 9, 2008 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Robert

    Age is just a number at a certain point. Yes, as we get older, our mind absorbs less information. There are young people who can suffer problems that a 72 year old person may have. John McCain appears to be very articulate and alert at all the debates but can either McCain or Obama handle the huge pressure and stress that will come with the job of presidency.

    Being president means having a lot of STRESS. Stress can equal a heart attack for either Obama or McCain especially after the mess Bush made. I think the next president will have a HUGE responsibility to administer. Our economy is posssibly facing a depression, there is also Al Qaeda/Bin Laden, Iran, North Korea. I think even an 18 year old wouldn't be fit to be president with the mess we're going to be involved in over the next 4 years.

    October 9, 2008 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Nick

    Dear Dr Gupta,
    I think age matters. This is particularly so in the case of a Presidential candidate. I am 65, play golf 2, 3 times a week and am in a pretty good shape physically. But I know my memory is not what it was. In Mr McCain's case, he is even older, and if he wins the election, the stress of the job could kill him, if not physically, but mentally. I am not a US citizen, but if Gov Palin were to succeed (President) McCain, not only America will suffer, but the whole world would. She is just not ready to be the President and Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation on earth.

    October 9, 2008 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. nancy

    I have been hearing that Senator Obama is smoking cigarettes. Not sure if this is accurate. If it is true I think you should cover it and I think it is timely.

    October 10, 2008 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Michael D. Houst

    Physical and mental fitness matter more than just age.

    John McCain appears to be exhibiting the beginning stages of dementia. Once dementia starts showing, the rate of decay is pretty rapid. The likelihood of John McCain finishing out his 1st term as president is really pretty low.

    Which means we'd end up with Sarah Palin in the office of the President. Frankly, she's even less qualified for that office than I am; which I suppose means that I'm better qualified to be governor of Alaska than she is. Scarey thought. And doesn't speak well of Alaskan's ability to choose their governors.

    October 10, 2008 at 12:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Gita

    Age is relative when it comes to people acumen/intellect. I know so many people way into their 70's(including my father who is 77) who have excellent memory and health by God's grace. My father remembers so well that he can quote the exact words of shakespeare plays or bacon essays at this age. What matters is how we use our mind(positive or negative way). Negativity erodes memory.

    What scares me is McCain's eccentricity, schizophrenic behaviour. Very erratic his responses are. To me, it's not the age, but looks he doesn't use his brains nor does he listen to anybody around him(looks they are also like him). He needs to fire everybody and hire some brainies! He just spits words. I don't know whether it's due to his age or his illiteracy or anti-intellectualism.

    Does any country and her citizens want that kind of a person to lead the country?

    Finally it's the people who choose the leaders. As long as people are ignorant and remain stupid, there will be "wrong" leaders taking them and their country in the wrong direction.

    Look at the opponent Obama. He seems cool, composed. He is far younger to McCain and McCain should learn from Obama how to keep the mind in its "place" instead of freaking out for every small thing. McCain changes his mind so fast that he himself(his campaign advisors too!) can't remember what he said.

    John Milton said "mind in its own place can make hell of a heaven or heaven of a hell"

    Knowledge makes one helluva difference. Think twice before one speaks.

    It looks nobody is giving proper advice to Sen McCain. Sad. If he goes at this rate(the way his campaign goes), i would not be surprised if he admits himself into some mental hospital. Many people (not only me) around the world think that way.

    Sarah Palin(it looks she doesn't even have high school education from the way she talks) is causing more mental problems to Sen Mccain on top of the existing ones:-) Two together have turned their campaign into a circus that the entire world is happily watching and I have my hearty laugh watching late night comedy central shows. BTW, I can see her from Florida!

    As far Presidency is concerned, i think there should be age limit 65 maximum.

    October 10, 2008 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. GW alum

    Dr .Gupta:

    I just watched your excellent segment "Fit to Lead" and it brought back memories from when President Reagan was shot. I was a medical student at George Washington University at the time.

    I do believe that age matters and impacts one's ability to quickly process information and make vital decisions. As a physician who cares for the entire age spectrum, I have often seen patients who were considered "healthy" in their 70's who then experience a significant "geometric" decline in cognitive function over a period of 2-3 yrs. despite well-controlled blood pressure and 'normal labs'.

    I have watched Senator McCain look fatigued through a very rigorous campaign schedule, listened to the speeches when he did not sound sharp and wondered whether he would be able to remain 'physically fit' during a stressful job as POTUS.

    I was also disappointed to read (and hear again in your segment)about Senator Obama's smoking history and hope that his physician continues to 'hammer home' the importance of tobacco cessation due to the obvious cardiovascular risks associated with tobacco use.

    I, too, believe that there should be an age limit of 65 for anyone running for President AND Vice President, for that matter.

    October 11, 2008 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Carol Venti

    At approximately 8:45 am (10/11) there was a CNN segment on the presidential candidates' health. It was emphasized that Senator McCain's mother's longevity was evidence that he had or would have a long life span. My question: WHY WAS NOTHING MENTIONED OF MCCAIN'S FATHER? GRANDFATHER? Don't their deaths while in the early 70's matter?
    Carol Venti

    October 11, 2008 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sharon McEachern

    The standards should be different. The two presidential candidates are different in so many obvious ways that relate to their health. For a 47-year-old Barack Obama, with no history of serious illness, a one-page summary is fine. But, a 72-year-old John McCain is 25 years older than Obama. Should a physician have the same health concerns for the father as the son? That 25-year difference means body parts are wearing out, much faster for McCain. And his bounce-back factor, should he become ill, is lower and slower than Obama. It's just a fact that we all have to face as we age. And it does happen to everyone, including presidential candidates. Add to that the fact that McCain has had four bouts with cancer and the horrible health effects of being a POW, effects which can also increase with aging. There are a number of valid reasons why McCain's past and future health should draw more concern than that of Obama.

    It seems to me that the media has gingerly avoided much direct discussion of McCain's age, as if it just wouldn't be nice. Hello? If elected he would be the oldest president ever elected and we've all seen how the burdens of the office age even young men like Clinton and Dubbya Bush. I call it the white-hair-syndrome because after a few years they all physically age rapidly. I have serious doubts that McCain could live out a four-year term as president. Yes, there should be a double standard when it comes to the health of the candidates.

    Sharon McEachern

    October 11, 2008 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Judith Harris

    Dear Dr. Gupta,
    Does John McCain suffer from PTSD? If so, shouldn't that medical information be discussed in the media? I have PTSD as a result of childhood torture so why wouldn't John McCain have it?
    Judith Harris

    October 11, 2008 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mei Ling

    Voters should be remmeber that JFK was only 44 when he was elected President of the United States. Obama's age should not be an issue. As for McCain, his advanced age leaves room for question as the aging process does take it's toll and eventually, he will have new issues.

    October 11, 2008 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Jo

    First, let me say that I am a 59-year old woman who is in the so-called group of "undecided" independent voters.

    I believe that age is most definitely an issue in this election and that McCain is showing signs of fatigue right now. The fact that his doctors have given him a "thumbs up" on his cancer means nothing. My mother was declared cancer-free and was gone 4 months later.

    I was actually disappointed to the point of anger when John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate - as were many of my friends. There are so many very qualified and accomplished Republican women in government today and any one of them would have made a great partner on the ticket. His choice of Palin immediately proved to me that he was not thinking clearly and I would be very curious to know what his team thought of this insanity. The minute he chose her, I think he lost the election. And now, even listening to her whirl around trying to make a point is almost painful.

    I am not a fan of Obama, but I do feel confident that if anything were to happen to him (& bad health affects people of all ages) at least Joe Biden can complete a sentence. The US needs to get used to the fact that our country will be almost completely run by one party - at least for the next 4 years. God help us.

    October 11, 2008 at 16:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. richard barbour

    yes, age definitely makes a difference when running for president. a president has to handle many stressful situations daily and mental facilites must be intact, i am concerned about mccain being president because of his age and quick temper, also because his pallin is not intelligent enough to take over for him if he should get sick or pass.

    October 11, 2008 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. evelyn

    Dr Gupta - I agree with those who say that age does matter. But, some people handle it better than others and overall physical and mental health is surely more important.

    What concerns me far more is that I watched "Fit to Lead" this evening and am incredulous that you could report on the mental health of former presidents and present candidates, but in the case of Sen. McCain not make the slightest mention of the possibility that he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If he does, it could seriously affect his fitness to lead. If he does not, then people should be made aware of this.

    October 12, 2008 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Christopher Matthews

    While I agree that many senior citizens are vital and valuable throughout their final years, society has a right and responsiblity to set a retirement age, just as it has set ages for ability to enter into a contract, recognized as an adult and when one can have their first drink. Feel arbitrary? It is. But just as we have good reasons for the young to be given rights over time, so it is with the other side of the life cycle with decreasing responsiblities in deference to age.
    I would agree that 65 yrs old is a good manitory "may no longer run for office" age for our president. We need vitality and talent and energy. This is more often visited on the young. Sometimes it is also right to just move off the stage before one's dignity will suffer in public.

    October 12, 2008 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Jimmy K from Tampa

    With all due respect to Mr. Mccain, I believe that age does matter, for a US President, who is entrusted with making some of the most important and serious decisions. Yes, Mccain is in great physical and mental health. He has shown that in running his campaign. But maybe someone with Dr. Gupta's calibre and expertize in medical field can truly and honestly give us Americans a good idea as to the capacity and effeciency of a person at Mr. Mccain's age, to make sound and serious decisions.

    Considering Palin's experience (OR LACK THEREOF) in global political affairs, Mr. Mccain's age does become an issue.

    October 12, 2008 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. messagero

    Dr Gupta,

    You mentioned in tonight's report on the health of the US President, that Obama mistakenly referred to 57 states during his campign. I think it is obvious to all of us, including yourself, that Sen. Obama was referring to the 57 contests in the Democratic Primary.

    October 12, 2008 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. lenore b.

    Dr. Gupta,
    I enjoyed "Fit to Lead", and looked forward ot the segment on mental health. However, I was disappointed that there was no commentary regarding the mental health of the candidates. McCain was a prisoner of war and subjected to torture. It's hard to beleive that he doesn't suffer from some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder. He's 72 years old, and most people that age do show at least minor signs of mental decline (poor memory, etc.) It was rumored that by the end of his presidency, Reagan's cognitive ability was in decline, and he was very dependent on his aides to function. Couple that with his obvious physical problems, and his outlook seems marginal at best.

    October 12, 2008 at 21:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Shelton Stromquist

    I was pleased that Sanjay Gupta included a discussion of mental health in his investigative report on the health of presidents past. But, I was deeply disappointed that he fell silent on the issue of the current candidates' mental health. If you have the courage to raise the issue, then don't avoid addressing the candidates' mental health (just as you discussed their physical health.) The issue is real in this campaign. Numerous press reports and Senator McCain's colleagues in the Senate have alluded to his violent temper and explosiveness. What underlying mental health problems might this suggest? Certainly the American people need to be able to assess his (and Senator Obama's) fitness to serve with respect to their mental stability. I'm disappointed.

    October 12, 2008 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Josephine

    I loved your Fit to lead program,just was surprised that you didn't mention the drug use by Obama that can contribute to his health in a bad way.

    October 13, 2008 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Captbilly

    The "Spercial Investigation" Fit to Lead was one of the most rediculous stories I have ever seen. Were we truely supposed to believe that John McCain with his numerous bouts of melanoma, obvious physical problems, and advanced age is demonstrably in similar condition to Obama? You mention that though you got to look at over 1000 pages of McCain's medical records for three hours (that works out to something like 10 seconds per page, so you must be something of a speed reader), and in spite of the fact that those records are not even all of McCain's records for the past 8 years, so that we have much more information about McCain's health than we do Obama's. Has it even occured to anyone that a healthy 47 year old man doesn't have much in the way of medical records?

    I spent 6 years as an Air Force pilot, in that entire period my medial record was probably no more than a few dozen pages. If I hadn't been a pilot durin that time I would probably not had any medical records for that period at all since I was never sick enough to need medical care. The simple fact that McCain's records for only an 8 year period, amounts to over 1000 pages, speaks volumes about his poor health. I have had one parent die of melanoma and I know how serious of a condition that is. My father had only one bout of melanoma (and died) while McCain has had at least 4 cases, possibly more that we don't know about. I am a scientist, though always a bit sceptical about medical science, and I wonder at the accuracy of the statistic you presented that claimed that a man that had at least 4 cases of melanoma over only a few years, has only a 10% chance of another case in the next 10 years. It frankly defies logic to suggest that McCain's odds of another melanoma is much less in the future than it has been in the past.

    In another segment they argue that if a man has lived to 72 than he is likely to live another 12 years, but the tables they used to look that up did not take into account McCain's numerous cancers and other conditions. In addition there was no discussion of the fact that an unhealthy 72 year old is going to be spending much more time dealing with health issues than a healthy 47 year old.

    Fair and balanced is one thing but trying to make it seem as if John McCain and Obama are just as likely to die or be incapacitated in office is simply streatching logic to the breaking point. We all understand that no one can say with certainty that someone will or will not get sick or die over the next 4 years, but that does not trump the fact that we also all know that John McCain is many times more likely to need medical attention, or to die, over the next four years than Obama. The media let us down in their coverage of the run up to the Iraq invasion, and in the run up to the latest financial crisis, lets not pretend that we didn't realize that McCain was more likely to get sick or die, right up to the minute he falls over dead. Man up, do your job and tell us the truth, not what you think will offend the fewest viewers.

    October 13, 2008 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. GW alum

    Dr .Gupta:

    I just watched your excellent segment “Fit to Lead” and it brought back memories from when President Reagan was shot. I was a medical student at George Washington University at the time.

    I do believe that age matters and impacts one’s ability to quickly process information and make vital decisions. As a physician who cares for the entire age spectrum, I have often seen patients who were considered “healthy” in their 70’s who then experience a significant “geometric” decline in cognitive function over a period of 2-3 yrs. despite well-controlled blood pressure and ‘normal labs’.

    I have watched Senator McCain look fatigued through a very rigorous campaign schedule, listened to the speeches when he did not sound sharp and wondered whether he would be able to remain ‘physically fit’ during a stressful job as POTUS.

    I was also disappointed to read (and hear again in your segment)about Senator Obama’s smoking history and hope that his physician continues to ‘hammer home’ the importance of tobacco cessation due to the obvious cardiovascular risks associated with tobacco use.

    I, too, believe that there should be an age limit of 65 for anyone running for President AND Vice President, for that matter.

    October 13, 2008 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Andrew

    Age does matter. McCain is just too old to be president. The U.S. has an appearance of a young, vibrant nation and we need a young vibrant president to run it. Not a President who looks like they are about to die. How will that help morale? I guess a plus is that McCain could help get us through this stock market crash since he was alive and probably in the senate during the 1929 crash – O wait, he did try to help by passing that awful bailout bill and it did not work.

    A president should be at least familiar with, let’s say the internet, youtube and blogging. I can be generous and just say that a president should know what a computer is and that they do no take up entire rooms anymore or use floppy disks. Why is this important, because the majority of Americans know about these things and if the President is going to be representing "the people" he needs to know what they know, value, do for that matter.

    McCain is simply to out of touch with America. How can you be president and not know how to use computers? Furthermore, what effect will this have on the country if our Commander and Chief cannot understand certain technologies? Will he still support funds for advancement and research or redistribute them to the military – the only thing he seems to know about, which is also out of date knowledge.

    Lastly, almost everyone else is forced to retire at 65, so should the president. Why should he be exempt? Why is he special? He is truly not one of "the people" if he is exempt from the rules/norms. If he is to be president it will just push him further away from the Americans he claims to know so much about.

    October 13, 2008 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Josh from St. Louis

    What is the deal with McCain's breathing?During the last debate, did you notice how he sounded as if he was gasping for air in between sentences? It sure did not sound healthy.

    October 13, 2008 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Regina

    Doctor, I am 80 years young, don't look it and sometimes don't feel it, and I fly around like some one much younger, but I will tell you my recall on some things has slowed down considerably. The physical toll of dealing with all the issues that cross the President's desk, the hours needed to be awake and the phone ringing at 3am disturbing sleep can affect a person in a profound way. I think it should be mandantory for the President and the Supreme Court Justices to retire at 65. There are many ways they can still be of service , but it should be at a more relaxed pace. No-one can keep up non stop and be really effective. , If they are honest they will concede that age does make a difference in pereformance.

    October 13, 2008 at 20:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. LCW

    Think for a minute, putting politics aside:
    A young man may become angry when an older one is able to put aside emotions in order to make a rational decision. With age comes experience and wisdom. A young man is often idealistic, while an older man is usually realistic – time and sacrifice, wins and losses tempering youthful zeal. A young man may think he's invincible, where an old man acknowledges the inevitable. A young man may rush to a decision where an old man takes time to properly analyze the situation. Unlike our military, where split second decisions are often required on the battlefield, the president has time to react. He has time to ask advisors. He has time to write his speech. Split second decision making is not required of a president. What is required is understanding of differing points of view, and the ability to make a decision and take responsilbity for that decision. People of all ages sometimes try to avoid the responsibility part.

    Senator McCain's mother is sharp as a tack well into her 90's. I've seen a 25 yr old man drop dead from a heart attack after a 2 mile run. I've known a 45 yr old that died of brain cancer. And I know my parents, active and mentally accute well into their 70's.

    Can someone in their 70's be an effective leader? Absolutely. The fact that we are even asking this question is indicative of the bias of our culture -youth rules, old people should go to the ice flow and die. How many would have said FDR can't be president because he's in a wheelchair?

    Age should be no more of a consideration than race, sex, or religion. What should be the issue is "Is this person fit to lead for 4 years?"

    So, physiacl age is irrelavent. Mental maturity is not. Pick your candidate based on issues and whether you think he is mentally and emotionally able to make hard decisions for the "greater good". And keep your personal biases out of the decision process.

    October 14, 2008 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. jennifer

    Age only matters when there is no one reliable to take over... in McCain's case... the rnc forced a ding bat on him ... and her lack of intellect could seriously endanger the whole free world

    October 17, 2008 at 10:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Nicole

    Age only matters when there is someon reliable to take over. i agree with jennifer on this one. you need a good vice president to be there for you and the country if anything were to happen to you. this election people really need to think what vice president they would want to be president, if anything happened to McCain would you want hes vice president becoming president?

    October 17, 2008 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Rusty

    Yes, age matters. We are not talking about flying a plane or supervising a small business; we are talking about leading the greatest country in the world at a time when it's not in such great shape.

    McCain's judgment is already in question, both in the choice of running mate and his choice of campaign tactics. He has obvious mobility issues, and has suffered from Cancer and Post Traumatic Stress, and has been proven to have anger issues. As we age, our temperament changes, and he will be no different. I watched my parents change as they aged and I find myself developing issues with age.

    The welfare of this country is far too important to place in the hands of an angry old Cancer survivor with a mental condition. We deserve better.

    October 17, 2008 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. DiAna Greene

    Does age matter? Of course it does. It is important in many aspects of life span development and the changes that take place in us physically and psychologically from birth to old age. Should there be an age limit for our leaders? A resounding yes, because our development not only involves growth but also decline that oftentimes requires some form of maintenance, support and regulation. In my opinion, a more important question becomes is age a good indicator of individual maturity and effective leadership? However, the answers will begin to unfold after Tuesday, November 4, 2008.

    October 18, 2008 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. KG

    I fully agree with LCW. It does not matter one way or another how old you are to be prdsident. As for the Alzhiemers comment, please stop. My family has a history of it and my grandmother's younger brother died from it in his 60"s. she is in her 80's and he died last Christmas. If what you say is true about family or loved ones having Alzhiemers then you should know full well that there isnt a specified age for the start of it. Yes, John McCain may face health problems. WE ALL DO AT SOME POINT!! If Obama is elected he might get cancer too. Either way there is a possibility of an assasination, attempted or competed. If you say that McCain has enough money to take care of any problem then listen here. I am a Indian female. I am a Republican. My family makes under 50 thousand a year. I have 1 sibling in college and another on the way. Not all Republicans are rich. And not all of us can access health care like you assume.

    October 28, 2008 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Frank R. Pacino

    I don't believe that age matters...what matters is if the person has control of their mental facilities and is able to get around. Despite his age we've seen John McCain active, both mentally and physically. He appears to be more coherent than most people in their 50s and 60s.

    October 29, 2008 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Delle Jacobs

    I have no intentions of stating my age on any national media, but let's just put it this way: I finally beginning to understand why age can be a factor in just about any activity. Or not.

    I've watched John McCain very closely, and because I thought it would be nice to see the silver ceiling fractured by a silver head, I've wondered if he might be one of those people who remains physically and mentally strong and active, with an active, creative mind and mature temperament.

    I'd love to see that. But I'm sorry, I don't. A number of reporters have commented how tired he seems, how much trouble he seems to have staying on task and thinking on his feet, and how he can't seem to make up his mind and stick with it. I've seen the same things.

    But that doesn't mean no older person could have the abilities necessary to be a president. Sharpness of mind and physical competence in older people are not all that uncommon anymore.

    I still don't think there should be an age limit on a candidate for any public office, including the presidency. (I don't think anyone should be forced to retire or leave employment because of age alone.) But I do think age and ability to do the job should be carefully and objectively considered by the voters. And that latter is a carefully considered opinion that I wish I didn't have to have.

    October 29, 2008 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

October 2008
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