Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared at a South Carolina campaign stop Friday with a large bandage above his left eye.
At 77, the 2020 presidential candidate is old enough for such optics to necessitate damage control, which his campaign immediately launched by announcing he had cut his head on a glass shower door.
Bruised but not Beaten
The far left Democrat’s campaign was quick to specify that Sanders’ injury was not the result of a fall, and that he had no intention of canceling any previously scheduled events.
Sanders’ spokeswoman Arianna Jones explained that “out of precaution, he went to a walk-in clinic” and was given a “clean bill of health.”
“The senator has proceeded with all of his scheduled events–joining a group of approximately 20 local clergy for breakfast this morning–and looks forward to joining a roundtable with South Carolinians this afternoon to discuss how we can provide high quality affordable health care for all,” Jones said.
Nevertheless, Sanders’ injury has raised the question of whether the senator’s age will be a factor in the upcoming election. He is six years older than Hillary Clinton, whose alleged poor health during her 2016 run was seized upon by Republicans as evidence of her unfitness for office.
Sanders’ age would also negate any efforts by Democrats to cast Trump as too elderly for reelection. Trump is the oldest president elected in U.S. history, but is five years younger than Sanders.
Leading in the Polls
Before Sanders can face off against Trump, he must contend with a younger pool of Democrats that includes the left’s favorite protected statuses: women and minorities.
But contrary to the conventional wisdom that Democrats don’t want an “old white guy,” the new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers revealed Sanders as the first choice among current candidates.
With 25 percent voting for Sanders as their top choice, the poll gave him a two-digit lead over every other candidate, including Democrats such as Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and former tech executive Andrew Yang.
One name that did beat Sanders isn’t even officially in the race yet — Joe Biden, who pulled two points ahead of Sanders and is just one year his junior. Taken together, 52 percent of polled Iowa Democrats threw their support behind candidates who bear the triple liability of being old, white and male.
However, these numbers are likely to shift as voters familiarize themselves with lesser known candidates. For example, when likely caucusgoers were asked which candidates are “too liberal, about right or too conservative,” 34 answered “not sure” for Harris, while only 7 percent said the same for Sanders, and 10 percent for Biden.