First-time voters for Bernie Sanders don't care about his age, say he speaks to what matters to them and would've voted for him in 2016

First-time voters for Bernie Sanders don't care about his age, say he speaks to what matters to them and would've voted for him in 2016

bernie sanders rally iowa city 2019

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Audience members listen to 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speak during a rally, Friday, March 8, 2019, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.

  • College students who support Sen. Bernie Sanders and will be voting for the first time in 2020 say the senator's age is not an issue to them.
  • Sanders, 77, has faced questions as to whether he's too old to run for president since the senator announced he's running again.
  • Anthony Johnston, 18, a student at the University of Iowa, told INSIDER that "age range doesn't matter" when it comes to Sanders because he "just knows" young people's values and "shares them."

IOWA CITY, IA - Young supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders say they're not concerned about his age as the 77-year-old from Vermont makes another run for president.

At Sanders' rally in Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday night, students from the University of Iowa could be overheard talking about how the senator has "always" had the same values.

One such student, Sam Johnston of Forsyth, Illinois, told INSIDER he supports Sanders because he's "fair," "reliable," and he trusts the senator to "follow through" on his campaign promises.

Johnston, 18, who will be a first-time voter in 2020, said "age range doesn't matter" when it comes to Sanders because he "just knows our values and shares them."


Read more: Bernie Sanders' 2020 campaign slogan is a direct rebuke of Trump's 2016 message of 'I alone can fix' America

Anthony Schulte, who came to the rally with Johnston and will also be a first-time voter, nodded in agreement as his friend spoke.

Schulte, 19, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told INSIDER he has "no concerns" about Sanders' age.

"Nothing is more important to me than climate change," Schulte said as he explained why he supports Sanders. He added that the senator is "not in bed" with Wall Street and big corporations, which also matters to him a great deal.

Bernie Sanders Univ. of Iowa

John Haltiwanger/INSIDER

Sam Johnston, 18, and Anthony Schulte, 19, at a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa City on March 8, 2019.

Aluna Olaniyi, 18, of Fairfield, Iowa, who was with Johnson and Schulte, also said she doesn't care about Sanders' age.

"The ideals he believes in I also believe in," Olaniyi, another first-time voter, said. "He has held the same values for a long time, so he's obviously not wishy-washy."

Johnston, Schulte, and Olaniyi all said they would've voted for Sanders in 2016 if they could've at the time.

When asked if they would support the ultimate Democratic nominee even if it's not Sanders, the trio hesitated to respond.

Johnston, appearing deep in thought, said "most likely, yes" but added that there's "so many" candidates to choose from and it's early. If it came down to it, Johnston said his second choice would would be Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.


Read more: Bernie Sanders says fellow 2020 Democratic candidates are now running on his 2016 ideas that were originally dismissed as 'too radical'

Olaniyi said her second choice would be Jay Inslee because she appreciates that the Washington state governor has made addressing climate change the centerpiece of his 2020 campaign. She added that she could also support Warren in the general election if it came down to it.

But all of them were reluctant to embrace any candidate other than Sanders as of yet.

Olaniyi, when asked if she agreed with those who've said Sanders hasn't done enough to reach out to minorities, said, "I don't think he's blind to the issue of race." She added that while it's not been "the key concept" in his rhetoric, Sanders is still fighting to make sure "everyone has equality."

Bernie Iowa City rally

John Haltiwanger/INSIDER

Aluna Olaniyi, 18, at a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders in Iowa City on March 8, 2019.

Meanwhile, Freya Buhr, 19, of Clermont, Iowa, is so dedicated to Sanders that she didn't let the fact Friday was her birthday deter her from attending the Vermont senator's rally in Iowa City.

"Bernie is great and he's always been on the right side of history," Buhr said when asked why she stands behind Sanders. She pointed to his work on civil rights as well as the senator's stance on LGBTQ rights and issues.

Read more: Read Bernie Sanders' full speech from his first Iowa 2020 campaign rally

"He's a strong leader," Buhr added. "He's the kind of person we need with the current political discourse in America."

When asked if she agreed with critics who've suggested Sanders will struggle to win over women voters, Buhr referred to him as a "feminist" and said that "Bernie's platform has always been in support of women."


If elected president, Sanders would be the oldest commander-in-chief in US history to enter the White House.

The senator has addressed concerns about his age several times. When asked whether he's too old for the job during a recent appearance on "The View," Sanders replied, "Judge people on the totality of their lives ... Judge people on the work that they do."

Similarly, on the day Sanders' announced he's running again, he told Vermont Public Radio, "We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender, and not by their age."

"I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society, which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for."