One of the bits of breaking news this week was Politico’s Darren Samuelson’s widely corroborated scoop that former President George H.W. Bush had let it be known that he intended to vote for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this year’s election, instead of Donald Trump, his party’s nominee.
Were this one of those elections where “The Party Decides” and in which elites signal their preferences and steer public opinion, this would be a huge event on the campaign trail. It is, of course, not one of those elections, though many argue that Bush’s quasi-Clinton endorsement may carry weight with, say, moderately conservative suburban women who have hitherto been unaware of who Donald Trump is, exactly. Regardless, one way in which Trump is an oddity is that he’s not yet won the support of any living president.
On Tuesday’s edition of CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front,” the eponymous host asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway about the elder Bush’s snub: “That of course is not just not voting for Donald Trump, it is voting for Hillary Clinton. What is your response to that?”
Conway mainly responded by seeming to take a shot at Bush’s age: “Well, I respect the 92-year old former president very much and his decision, and I think that Americans are very grateful to the Bush family for their public service, that’s his right.”
I’m not sure it was necessarily respectful to pointedly note Bush’s age like that. It seems to imply that Bush is a doddering old man without any real sense of what’s going on. But while we’re being so respectful, it’s worth pointing out that whoever wins this election, Trump or Clinton, would be the oldest person to ever take office as president.* Trump, the more senior of the two, seems to be very forgetful. Just last week, he gave a speech in Washington in which he seemed to forget that he was a birther, despite this being the most essential aspect of his political career. It’s curious!
Anyway, Conway would go on to say, “This was a bruising primary, and Jeb Bush really failed all expectations that he would be the quote ― electable, the predominant person on the stage.” No arguments there.
*Technically Clinton would tie Ronald Reagan, who took office at age 69 in 1980, for the oldest candidate to win the presidency, but that’s still a tie.
This article has been updated to note that Reagan was 69 when he entered the White House.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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