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President Reagan jokingly turned the age issue to his...

WASHINGTON -- President Reagan jokingly turned the age issue to his advantage during his debate with Walter Mondale Sunday night, promising he would not exploit Mondale's 'youth and inexperience' in the campaign.

In response to a question, Reagan said he could hold up during an emergency such as the Cuban missile crisis -- when John F. Kennedy went days on end with very little sleep.

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'And I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue in this campaign,' he said.

'I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience,' Reagan said to great laughter in the debate hall.

He added that one of the old Latin writers, 'it was Seneca or Cicero -- I don't know which -- that said if it was not for the elders correcting the mistakes of the young there would be no state.'

Reagan at 73 is the oldest American president and he faced increasing criticism in the past two weeks following his first debate with Mondale. During the first round he seemed to falter and look tired, but his advisers said he had been 'brutalized' by too much prompting on facts and figures.

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Mondale, 56, also said he would not make an issue of the age factor.

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