If gray hairs show experience, Barack Obama says he has sprouted more signs of it since he officially began his bid for the White House more than a year and a half ago.

The Democratic presidential candidate told AARP Bulletin that age could be one reason his Republican rival John McCain does well with older voters.

They want to see more gray hairs,” Obama, 47, said. “I would point out that over the past 19 months, I’ve accumulated quite a few.”

In an Associated Press-GfK Poll conducted earlier this month, 52 per cent of those age 65 and older said they were backing McCain and 39 per cent were behind Obama. For those ages 50 to 64, McCain was supported by 53 per cent compared with Obama’s 36 per cent.

McCain, 72, would be the oldest man entering the White House. The Arizona senator is a 26-year member of Congress, while Obama is in his first term as Illinois senator.

“First, for a presidential candidate, I am young,” Obama said of trailing McCain in support from older voters. “So it’s not surprising that people with more experience in life would put more stock in the experience argument.”

McCain told the monthly newspaper that he stays in good shape and has a “good bill of health.”

“The demands of the presidency are tough on anyone, regardless of age, but I know I can handle it,” McCain said.

The interviews appear in the October issue of AARP Bulletin, which starts arriving at members’ homes September 27.

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