Don Lemon is issuing a mea culpa after saying former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley isn’t “in her prime.”
During Thursday’s episode of “CNN This Morning,” Lemon and his co-hosts discussed Haley’s comments during her presidential campaign announcement that called for “mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.” The 51-year-old politician launched her bid in the Republican race at a rally Wednesday in Charleston, S.C.
Speaking to co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, Lemon, 56, said Haley’s “talk about age” makes him uncomfortable and said her comments were the “wrong road” to go down, adding that Haley “is not in her prime.”
The comments have sparked intense discussion on social media. We explain the controversy:
What did Don Lemon say about Nikki Haley’s ‘prime’?
Haley’s speech Wednesday called for “mental competency tests” for politicians more than 75 years old. President Joe Biden is 80 while another GOP presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump, is 76.
Lemon responded on the show Thursday. “She says people, politicians are not in their prime,” he said. “Nikki Haley is not in her prime, sorry. A woman is considered to be in her prime in her 20s, 30s and maybe her 40s.”
His co-host Harlow asked him to clarify what he meant by “prime” and if he was referring to “prime for childbearing” or “prime for being president.”
Lemon responded: “If you Google, ‘when is a woman in her prime,’ it’ll say 20s, 30s, and 40s. … I’m not saying I agree with that so I think she has to be careful about saying that (politicians aren’t in their prime).”
He brought up the subject again an hour later, when commentator Audie Cornish joined the discussion. Like Harlow inferred earlier, Cornish said the idea of “prime” that Lemon was referring to was about reproductive years, and didn’t concern mental health and aging.
“She’s in her prime for running for office,” Cornish said of Haley. “Political prime is what we’re talking about.”
Did Don Lemon apologize?
Thursday afternoon, Lemon apologized for his on-air comments.
“The reference I made to a woman’s ‘prime’ this morning was inartful and irrelevant, as colleagues and loved ones have pointed out, and I regret it,” Lemon wrote. “A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”
Lemon was not on air for Friday’s show. Collins noted that her co-host “has the day off” as Cornish sat in his place. Harlow appeared live from Salt Lake City, Utah ahead of the NBA All-Star game.
How did Nikki Haley respond?
Haley shared the clip from CNN and tweeted: “Liberals can’t stand the idea of having competency tests for older politicians to make sure they can do the job. BTW it’s always the liberals who are the most sexist.”
She also responded to Lemon’s apology.
“To be clear, I am NOT calling for competency tests for Sexist middle-aged CNN anchors; only for people who make our laws and are 75+,” Haley wrote.
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Contributing:The Associated Press
Story Credit: usatoday.com