As President Joe Biden marked his 81st birthday, the White House found itself in a delicate position, addressing concerns about the president’s age and stamina while emphasizing his wealth of experience. In a lighthearted celebration on the White House South Lawn, Biden cracked jokes about the challenges of turning 60, using humor to deflect attention from the persistent issue of his age.
White House Stands Firm
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took a proactive stance, asserting that the primary focus should be on the president’s extensive experience rather than his age. She highlighted Biden’s successful legislative achievements, including a comprehensive public works package and initiatives addressing public health and climate change. Jean-Pierre emphasized the importance of judging the president based on his actions, not merely numerical age.
Biden’s Humorous Approach
President Biden, known for his humor, took a playful approach to the age question during the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony. Addressing the crowd, he jovially mentioned the difficulty of turning 60, connecting the celebration to the 76-year tradition of pardoning turkeys before Thanksgiving.
Age Concerns in Polls
Despite the lighthearted tone, age remains a concern in polls. Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, has consistently used humor to navigate this issue. However, an August poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicated that a significant percentage of U.S. adults, including Democrats, view Biden as too old for another four years in office.
Potential Rematch with Trump
Looking ahead to the 2024 election, Biden could face a rematch with former President Donald Trump, who himself is 77. Interestingly, the same poll found that a smaller percentage of adults, especially Republicans, considered Trump too old for a second term. To coincide with Biden’s birthday, Trump released a letter from his physician attesting to his excellent overall health and cognitive abilities.
Doubts and Criticism
Notable figures, including David Axelrod, a key player in Barack Obama’s presidential victories, expressed reservations about Biden’s 2024 chances. Axelrod’s frank assessment, highlighted in The New York Times, suggested a 50-50 shot for Biden, with potential risks associated with counting on Trump to secure victory.
White House Response to Doubts
In response to doubts raised by Axelrod and negative polling, Jean-Pierre remained steadfast. She stated that the Bidens would spend the president’s birthday in a traditional family gathering on Nantucket, downplaying concerns and emphasizing the lack of alarm behind the scenes.
As Biden pushes forward with his reelection campaign, the delicate dance around his age continues. While the White House emphasizes experience over age and Biden employs humor to deflect concerns, doubts persist. Ultimately, voters will make their own decisions, weighing the president’s extensive track record against concerns about his ability to lead for another term. As Biden celebrates another year, the question of age in politics remains a nuanced and ever-present factor.
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