Happy Birthday Rep. Slaughter! GOP Chair Says You’re ‘Too Infirm’ To Serve
ICYMI: State GOP Chairman Ed Cox raised the previously taboo subject of Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter’s age and health during a CapTon interview last night, saying without any beating around the bush that he believes the 83-year-old congresswoman is too old and too “infirm” to serve.
UPDATE: Ironically, Slaughter turns 83 TODAY! Nice timing, chairman.
Cox, who, for the record, is in his mid-60s, insisted Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan – architect of the controversial “Path to Prosperity” budget plan – will not derail the GOP’s goal of picking up an additional three or four House seats this fall.
The chairman said the party fared well in redistricting, thanks to the fact that state lawmakers couldn’t come to a deal on new House lines and kicked the whole mess to the courts.
Cox said the GOP has a “very good chance” at ousting Slaughter because she no longer represents the so-called “earmuff” district connecting Monroe and Erie counties.
Her new district is all contained in Monroe County which ostensibly improves the chances of Slaughter’s opponent, Monroe County Executive Maggie Books.
(Even so, this race is not high on the radar screen of national House contest watchers, who believe NY-25 remains Slaughter’s to lose).
The rest of my conversation with the chairman on NY-25 continued thusly:
COX: “Louise Slaughter, she’s going to have a hard time carrying on a campaign…Because of age and infirmities. She’s just has a hard time.”
LIZ: “So you think she’s too old to be in Congress?”
COX: “I think there comes a time for members of Congress when they, the public senses they’re no longer effectively representing them for a variety of reasons.”
LIZ: “How old was (the late former Senator) Strom Thurmond? How old is too old?”
COX: “It’s a question of being effective. It’s a question of being infirm, frankly, and being able to carry out your duties.”
For the record, Thurmond, a South Carolina Republican, left office in 2003 as the only senator to reach the age of 100 while still in office and as the oldest-serving and longest-serving senator in U.S. history.
Thurmond was later surpassed in longevity-in-office category by his longtime rival, Sen. Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat who served 51 years and five months to Thurmond’s 47 and five months.
Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye had served 48 years and four months as of May. (He’s still is office).
Slaughter is the oldest woman in Congress. But she is not the oldest member.
That honor falls to Texas Rep. Ralph Hall, an 88-year-old Democrat-turned-Republican who, like Slaughter, is also seeking re-election this year. He recently won a GOP primary in which he defeated a Tea Party challenger.
The question of Slaughter’s health has been dogging her for months, thanks at first to persistent rumors that she wasn’t well.
Those rumors were further fueled by a fall Slaughter suffered last spring that left her with a severely broken leg. The injury required weeks of hospitalization and rehab and kept the congresswoman away from Washington and home in Rochester.
But the feisty 82-year old insisted her re-election campaign would continue as planned, telling reporters in April:
“I wouldn’t be running for office if I was about to die. Nobody thinks that I’m that craven, I should hope. And I never intend to start anything I can’t finish. I’m going to be running. We’re running already.”
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