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SC Democratic governor candidate says Biden shouldn’t run in 2024 due to age

Joe Cunningham
Former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham addresses delegates at South Carolina’s Democratic Party convention on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. Cunningham is among five Democrats seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination in the June 14 primary. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial Joe Cunningham on Thursday suggested that President Biden should not run for another term in 2024, becoming the latest voice to express concern about the president’s age.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Cunningham was asked if he believed Biden, who is 79, was too old to run for reelection.

“Yeah, I think we need to have a new generation of leadership emerge. And this isn’t, you know, as the video said, judges in South Carolina have to retire at age 72. Democrats have a very deep bench, and it’s time to allow a new generation to emerge and new talent,” Cunningham replied, referring to a campaign ad released on Wednesday calling for age limits. 

“I think we need to have a new vision, new leadership. And this isn’t about, personal about Biden, but he’d be 82 [by the] time of the next election. If he served out a second term, he would be 86 years old. I’m not sure if any of us know any 86-year-olds who should be running the entire country,” the former congressman added later.

CNN showed a tweet from 2018 in which Cunningham touted then-Vice President Biden’s endorsement in his congressional race, an election he later won, flipping a seat that had been red for decades. 

“You’re really proud of the endorsement in that picture. You know, how do you think he’s going to feel about you coming out this morning and saying he shouldn’t run for reelection?” anchor John Berman asked him.

“Well look, this isn’t about where we are right now, this is looking to the future. And we’re, you know, like I said, he himself said he wants to be a bridge to the future. And again, we’re in this car, we’re driving across this bridge, and no one knows what’s on the other side. And that’s the conversation we need to be having right now,” Cunningham said in defense of his stance.

Cunningham was also asked if House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is 81, should also retire.

“Look, this isn’t anything personal. I mean, we set out — we draw a line, age 72, South Carolina state law is judges have to retire at age 72. So my question and the point that I’m making, if you’re too old to interpret the law, are you not too old to be making the law?” he asked.

“I appreciate all his service and what he’s done for our country, and It’s nothing personal. I get along fine with him. But as we look towards the future, we got to be looking to provide new vision,” he added later.

While the White House has repeatedly said Biden plans to run in 2024, some who spoke to The Hill earlier this week have acknowledged his age is a concern.

“Look, it’s a problem,” one Democratic strategist told The Hill, adding, “He’s f—— old and everyone knows it, but no one wants to talk about it for fear of offending him or anyone around him.” 

The Hill has reached out to a spokesperson for Clyburn for comment. 

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