When it comes to experience, Florida congressional hopeful Joe Newman's record is hard to beat.
Life experience, that is.
The 101-year-old Sarasota resident recently announced a bid for Congress, saying he will run as a write-in candidate against Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan. A win in the district along Florida's west coast would make Newman the oldest member of Congress by at least a decade.
The centenarian told NBC affiliate WFLA that living through some of the nation's most defining moments, including the Great Depression and the birth of Social Security, has given him valuable insights into what the nation needs to thrive. Newman, who describes himself on his campaign website as a "fiery advocate of social change for more than a half-century," says he feels called to help fix the country's current woes.
"You learn through life you have certain responsibilities. And if you don't fulfill them, how can you look in the mirror?" he told WFLA.
The self-described "Anthropological Progressive" counts funding social security, expanding Medicaid and fighting poverty among his key campaign issues. He told a local paper that he opted to run as a write-in instead of vie for one of the major party's nominations "because I want to feel free to criticize the Democrats or the Republicans."
Newman acknowledges that his effort faces an uphill battle, but he says he also hopes his longshot bid will "'inspire citizens of all ages and walks of life to get involved, get engaged, and to become active patriot leaders."
"If people are saying, who is this fool at 101 and running? Call me a fool. I'm sorry, but I've got to get out and convince John and convince Jim, hey think! What is the best thing our society can do and what is the responsibility of our society?" he said.
Newman joins at least four other candidates seeking to challenge the four-term congressman in Florida's 16th Congressional District.