Niki Kelly: Bring on better candidates for president


By Niki Kelly

Guest columnist

I can’t be the only one out there who is looking forward to a second Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump race for president about as much as cleaning my toilet.

It’s downright depressing. I want fresh ideas, new faces — dare I say, vitality?

A number of Republicans have announced they will run, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just this week. Former Vice President Mike Pence also has been making moves for a possible run.

Despite that, new CNN polling on the GOP primary shows Trump widening his lead among Republican voters — Trump up to 53% now versus DeSantis at 26%. In March, the two men were neck and neck.

Trump seems to have a grip on GOP voters despite his unprofessional demeanor, consistent lying and myriad criminal and civil entanglements.

Things aren’t much better on the Democratic side. Few are making noise about challenging sitting President Joe Biden. And his tenure has been marked by questions of his sharpness.

Trump and Biden have another thing in common — they are older than my parents (and I’m coming up on a big birthday).

Biden is 80 and Trump is 76. Neither brings a sense of vigor and energy. The stress and activity requirements of a normal job can be too much for someone well past retirement age, much less the pace and pressure of the presidency.

Several states recognize that cognitive abilities decline with age, mandating top judges retire at a certain age. In Indiana, that age is 75, younger than both presidential frontrunners.

U.S. presidents are sworn in at 55 years old on average, according to Some other interesting facts:

-Joe Biden was the oldest president sworn in at 78 years 61 days. But the previous record holder was Trump at 70 years and 220 days.

-John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected president at 43 years, 236 days.

-After William McKinley died, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president at 42 years, 322 days.

-When he was sworn in, William Henry Harrison (Indiana’s first territorial and youngest-ever governor) was 68 years, 23 days in 1841. He held the record for oldest president sworn in for 140 years until 1981. Ronald Reagan was sworn in at 69 years, 348 days.

I will probably get some unhappy emails due to this, but I think many Americans are looking for a new slate of leaders, not the same old — emphasis on old — ones.

If 35 is the required age to run and 78 is the average age of the two leading candidates right now, there have to be some credible candidates somewhere closer to the middle.

Niki Kelly is editor-in-chief of, where this commentary first appeared. She has covered Indiana politics and the Indiana Statehouse since 1999 for publications, including the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Send comments to [email protected].

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