How Old Do You Have to Be to Run for President?

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A candidate must be at least 35-years-old to become president of the United States of America. Article II, Section One, Clause Five of the U.S. Constitution states the age requirement. The clause lists other conditions for someone to have the highest office in the land too. There is no age cut-off to become president.

The Presidential Age Requirement

The Library of Congress says the legal criteria for becoming president has existed since before George Washington was sworn into office in 1789. Washington was the first U.S. president. This clause in the Constitution has remained unchallenged since its ratification on June 21, 1788.

Reasoning Behind the Age Requirement

James Madison was 36 when he wrote the Constitution. He never explained his reasoning behind the presidential age requirement. The National Constitution Center says that Madison addressed age and politics in The Federalist 62. He suggests that senators should be older than House members to build “senatorial trust”. That type of maturity is more likely to be reached when someone is older. 

Other Presidential Conditions

The Constitution states that the president must be a natural-born citizen of the United States. He or she must have also been living in the country for at least 14 years. The Library of Congress says the Constitution never explicitly banned racial minorities or women from politics.

Politifact notes that confusion arose when Texas Senator Ted Cruz ran for president. Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada, while his parents worked there. The Congressional Research Service says Cruz can legally become president because his mother was a citizen. The service says citizen-parents’ children can be born abroad and still be natural-born citizens. 

Age Obligations to Hold Other Offices

For someone to qualify to become vice president, he or she must also be 35 years of age or older. Other government offices also have age requirements. However, the age requirements vary depending on the political office. The framers of the Constitution debated this issue at length while constructing the document.

The U.S. Constitution outlines that senators must be at least 30, while a House member must be at least 25. Like the presidential age conditions, these requirements have existed since the Constitution's ratification in 1788. The Supreme Court’s official website says there are no age or citizenship requirements to become a Justice. 

Who Was the Youngest President

Theodore Roosevelt is the youngest president in history. He assumed the office just before his 43rd birthday. The White House’s official website says that then-Vice President Roosevelt became the 46th president after President William McKinley’s assassination in 1901. John F. Kennedy is the youngest elected president. He became president at the age of 43. 

The President of the United States (POTUS) official website says that Donald Trump is currently the oldest president in history. Trump was 70 when he was sworn in on January 20, 2017. Ronald Reagan was the oldest to end his presidency at age 77. Eight presidents have died while in office. Four died of natural causes, and four were assassinated.