Race, age, politics and purple socks

Race, age, politics and purple socks

John McCain’s age — not Barack Obama’s race or Hillary Clinton’s gender — will be the key factor in the presidential race by November, especially when the public and media compare McCain’s vigor (or lack of) versus Obama’s relative inexperience.

That debate will largely frame November’s presidential campaign said three veteran journalists who joined a purple sock-wearing Bob Schieffer ’59 for the 2008 TCU Schieffer School of Journalism Symposium in March.

Joining Schieffer for the fourth annual event were former CBS and NBC reporter Roger Mudd, Chicago Sun-Times syndicated columnist and television commentator Robert Novak and USA Today founder Al Neuharth.

With an average age of 77 (and Schieffer bragging that he was the youngest), the four panelists had plenty of experience to draw on during a discussion of politics and the campaign.

An unstable economy and uncertain Iraq will also be significant election factors as well, panelists agreed. As for which vice presidential running mates will fill out both parties’ tickets, wide speculation rules. McCain, at 71, will need a younger vice president, “but that won’t be very hard,” they joked.

But Novak summed up the predictions best: “If you don’t like mean, nasty politics, ladies and gentlemen, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Selected comments from the evening

Roger Mudd
former correspondent
CBS News & NBC News

“I can’t imagine Barack Obama really wanting Hillary Clinton on the ticket because Bill Clinton will be living in the White House.”

Robert Novak
syndicated columnist
Chicago Sun-Times and Fox News

“Take all the indicators – unpopular president, unpopular war, bad economy – and it points to a Democratic win. But we don’t have that kind of cut-and-dried election.”

Al Neuharth

USA Today

“The real issue will be McCain’s age. I’m 84. I remember when I was 71. At night after 9, you wouldn’t want me picking up the red phone. I propose a maximum age of 65.”

Bob Schieffer
CBS’ “Face the Nation”

“Up until we got into dodging sniper fire in Bosnia and talk about Rev. Wright, I really thought the campaigns were talking about the right things.”