81-year-old Bernie Sanders jokes that he couldn't hear a question about age limits for politicians

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81-year-old Bernie Sanders jokes that he couldn't hear a question about age limits for politicians
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at a Student Loan Forgiveness rally near the White House on April 27, 2022 in Washington, DCAnna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, asked about age limits for politicians, said it's important to look at the individual.
  • "Obviously you want people who are competent, capable, have the energy," he said on CBS Mornings.
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Asked whether politicians should be subject to age limits, 81-year-old Sen. Bernie Sanders leaned forward, tugged at his ear and pretended not to hear the question.

"Excuse me, What did you say?" the Vermont independent said, laughing and feigning a gruff voice on CBS Mornings on Tuesday.

The two-time presidential candidate, who is among the oldest members of the Senate, told the hosts there's too much focus on race, gender, and age in politics. It's important to look at the individual and the person's views, he said.

"Obviously you want people who are competent, capable, have the energy," he said. "I mean, my God, to be president the United States requires an enormous amount of energy. But I would say first of all, take a look at what people stand for. And we don't do that enough."

When asked whether he planned to run again, Sanders said "I haven't made that decision." It was unclear whether he was referring to a run for Senate or president and his office did not respond when asked to clarify. Sanders, whose current Senate term ends in January 2025, has called the likelihood of a third presidential bid "very, very slim" and that he won't challenge President Joe Biden in a 2024 primary.

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His focus now, he said, is going around the country to help elect "often young progressives, often young people of color, who are prepared to stand up for working families and take on big money interests."

Whether Biden runs for re-election is "his decision," he said. "Joe is a friend of mine and I think against enormous opposition, he has tried to do some very, very good things, and he will make that decision himself."

Sanders' comments come as Insider's "Red, White, and Gray" series explores the costs, benefits, and dangers of life in a democracy helmed by those of advanced age, where issues of profound importance to the nation's youth and future — technology, civil rights, energy, the environment — are largely in the hands of those whose primes have passed.

The Senate's average age this Congress is 64.3, the oldest in the chamber's history, according to the Senate Historical Office.

CBS Mornings hosts noted that some younger politicians are saying it's time for their generation to step up and most Americans think there should be age limits for politicians. Polling by Insider and Morning Consult found three in four Americans favor an age limit for members of Congress.

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When an Insider journalist asked Sanders about America's aging leaders, the senator interrupted him with a classic Sanders rant.

"Really!" Sanders interjected.

"Why don't you work on a story about America's oligarchy?" he said.

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