Senior Republican and former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Thursday called for a “cognitive test” for people in leadership positions and suggested a recheck of ages for people running the country.
Ms Haley was answering a question on the concerns around mental health of the US president Joe Biden in an interview on the conservative Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) with host David Brody, who called it a “legitimate topic of conversation”.
"Well what I’ll tell you is, rather than making this about a person, we seriously need to have a conversation that if you’re gonna have anyone above a certain age in a position of power — whether it’s the House, whether it’s the Senate, whether it’s vice president, whether it’s president — you should have some sort of cognitive test," Ms Haley said in the interview.
She added that the process could be akin to politicians releasing their tax returns in order to build faith with the public in their ability to enter office.
Making a case for it, the South Carolina governor said: "And right now, let’s face it, we’ve got a lot of people in leadership positions that are old. And that’s not being disrespectful. That’s a fact.
“When it comes to that, this shouldn’t be partisan. We should seriously be looking at the ages of the people that are running our country and understand if that’s what we want," Ms Haley said.
Ms Haley suggested that the 78-year-old president is not fully aware of developments in his administration and has shown that he is “not totally in charge” of the US.
“He can’t act like he doesn’t know something. Because every time he acts like he doesn’t know something from ‘OK, they tell me to call on these reporters,’ you know, he keeps giving signals that he’s not with us. So it’s not people hating Biden, it’s Biden really showing the country that he’s not totally in charge, and that makes everyone nervous," Ms Haley said.
The 49-year-old Republican was referring in part to the fallout with France after the US’s trilateral defence pact with the UK and Australia. Mr Biden had said he was not aware that Australia hadn’t already informed Paris about its decision to pull out of an existing deal to purchase French submarines.
The advancing age of both Mr Biden and Mr Trump was a major talking point in the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, with the Republican camp in particular arguing that the Democrat is not mentally fit for office.
In June this year, Republican congressman Ronny Jackson started a petition for President Biden to take a cognitive test after he claimed that the president “doesn’t know what’s going on, where he’s at. He’s very confused all the time.”
Conspiracy theories have run with the idea online, claiming that the president’s team is hiding his ailments, or even that the president as we see him is a hologram, even as these theories have been repeatedly and thoroughly debunked.
To counter these health concerns, if not the hologram theories, Mr Biden’s team released a medical summary in 2019 calling him a “healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency”. The White House says it will release another assessment later this year.
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