Don Lemon was back at the desk of CNN This Morning on Wednesday (Feb. 22), returning after a near-weeklong absence after saying Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was past her “prime.” Though Don, 56, and co-host Poppy Harlow didn’t mention what he said about Haley, Don tweeted an apology ahead of his appearance. “I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today. To my network, my colleagues, and our incredible audience — I’m sorry. I’ve heard you, I’m learning from you, and I’m committed to doing better. See you soon.”
I appreciate the opportunity to be back on @CNNThisMorning today. To my network, my colleagues and our incredible audience — I’m sorry. I’ve heard you, I’m learning from you, and I’m committed to doing better.
See you soon.
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) February 22, 2023
This marked Don’s second apology, following what he said on the Feb. 16 broadcast. That morning, Don, Poppy, 40, and cohost Kaitlan Collins, 30, discussed Haley’s proposal that politicians over 75 should be subject to mandatory mental competency tests. “This whole talk about age makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s the wrong road to go down. She says people, you know, politicians are suddenly not in their prime. Nikki Haley isn’t in her prime,” Don said of the 51-year-old Haley, per the New York Post. “A woman is considered to be in their prime in [their] 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.”
The comments immediately rankled Don’s cohosts. ” “What are you talking about, wait … Prime for what?” asked Poppy. ” “That’s not according to me,” argued Don. It’s like, prime. If you look it up. If you Google when is a woman in her prime, it’ll say 20s, 30s, and 40s. I’m just saying Nikki Haley should be careful about saying that politicians are not in their prime and they need to be in their prime when they serve. Because she wouldn’t be in her prime according to, you know, Google.”
Don tweeted an apology after the 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,” he 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 absent on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday’s episodes of CNN This Morning.
Nikki Haley – the former governor of South Carolina and ex-ambassador to the United Nations – announced her presidential candidacy on Feb. 14. At a political rally the next day, she announced her position on testing elderly politicians. “In the America I see, the permanent politician will finally retire,” Haley said, per The Hill. “We’ll have term limits for Congress and mandatory mental competency tests for politicians over 75 years old.”
President Joe Biden turns 81 in November 2023. The only other Republican running in the 2024 election, Donald Trump, turns 77 in June. The Hill also notes that support for Haley is currently “mired in the single digits.”