I had a theory for why Elizabeth Warren wasn’t going to run for President that may apply to her, but didn’t end up applying to every candidate. My guess was that she wouldn’t, mainly because she wasn’t a plausible presidential candidate until she was in her sixties, and most older presidential candidates have been running for years. When elderly candidates run for President, it’s usually the case that they’ve either run before (Dole in 1996, McCain and Biden in 2008, Romney in 2012, Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012, Hillary in 2016, possibly Biden in 2016), or that they’ve been waiting for a particular opening for a long time (Gingrich in 2012) or had toyed with it for some time (Donald Trump in 2016). Five years ago, Warren did not seem to have a plausible path to the nomination, so it didn’t seem that a poltician would be able to change their mindset that quickly.
The only exceptions I could think of were Gerald Ford (who lucked into the presidency by being a Veep choice acceptable to congressional Democrats at a time of Republican scandal) and Zachary Taylor, who had major military victories at 61 at a time when whigs were willing to pick potential Presidents with unconventional credentials. Bernie Sanders would upend my rationale for why we’re not going to have older first-time candidates by announcing his first presidential run when he’s in his Mid Seventies.
It could reflect how age just isn’t as significant an issue. People are healthier, with some entering politics later in life, often after retiring from their first career. Ben Carson’s running for President, after retiring as a neurosurgeon. Robert Bentley was elected to the Alabama State Senate a few months before his 60th birthday, and was elected Governor eight years later in his first attempt at statewide office. Some would seek promotions at a time when their careers are expected to be over. Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced a Senate bid, when he’ll be 75 on Election Day. Janet Yellen became Chair of the Federal Reserve at 67.
Bernie Sanders was elected to the Senate in 2006, so he didn’t have an opportunity to run for President until now. 2008 was out of the question, since he was a second year Senator, and a Socialist wasn’t going to be a popular choice for the party when Republicans were in the White House, and understood to know how to win presidential elections. And he wasn’t going to run against an incumbent President in 2012.