Former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pumps her fists in an auto shop as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, Iowa

On Clinton's age, Republican rivals imply — but never say — she's old

Former U.S. Secretary of State Clinton pumps her fists in an auto shop as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Kirkwood Community College in Monticello, IowaBy James Oliphant WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Her campaign barely three weeks old, Hillary Clinton already has been attacked by Republicans on everything from donations to her family’s charitable foundation, to her tenure as secretary of state and her ties to Wall Street. If elected in November 2016, Clinton would be, at 69, the second-oldest person to take the presidential oath for the first time, behind only Ronald Reagan, who turned 70 weeks after being sworn into office in 1981. Questions of health and fitness for the presidency dogged two former candidates of a similar age, Bob Dole in the 1996 election and John McCain in 2008, each of whom was 71 at this point in the race. “I do think age is an issue in a presidential campaign,” said Steve Schmidt, who was McCain’s campaign manager. “There is a thin line between seasoned and decrepit.” But several Republican campaigns that seem best positioned to exploit it don’t want to touch the issue – at least directly. That’s a shift from just a few months ago, when presidential hopefuls Senator Rand Paul, 52, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, 47, explicitly referenced Clinton’s age as a possible disqualifier, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell likened her to a cast member of the hit TV show “The Golden Girls,” which featured four older women living together.

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