President Joe Biden is observing his 81st birthday today in a subdued manner, opting for a quiet family celebration amid the anticipation of an intense election year ahead.
While the Biden family keeps the festivities low-key and away from the public eye, this moment casts a spotlight on one of his significant campaign vulnerabilities – his advanced age. This issue is compounded by voter perceptions that his physical and mental capabilities have diminished.
Behind the scenes, White House officials and campaign strategists acknowledge this as a concern and are actively working to prevent potential slip-ups while projecting an image of vitality. Biden received custom orthotics this year to aid his foot condition, revealed during his annual checkup, citing a “stiff gait.” Recent changes in his boarding routine on Air Force One, opting for shorter stairs, are noticeable. Additionally, during his Delaware vacations, Biden has attempted to display vigor, often cycling and even addressing reporters while wearing a helmet (he’s an enthusiast of the Peloton at the White House).
However, the issue of age continues to be a growing concern, evident in recent polls like the CNN survey, where it remains a significant worry for voters. Critics, including former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have openly raised and criticized Biden’s age, emphasizing its impact on his capacity to serve effectively.
Presently, Biden holds the distinction of being the oldest president in US history, surpassing Ronald Reagan’s age of 77 at the end of his second term. If reelected in 2024, Biden would reach 86 by the end of his potential second term, surpassing the record for the oldest president. Meanwhile, Trump, who would approach 83, would also become the oldest president if elected.
Biden’s team argues that there’s a double standard in the media’s focus on his age compared to Trump’s. They stress that voters prioritize other issues and believe age won’t be the deciding factor in the upcoming elections.
On his birthday, Biden’s schedule is expected to include the traditional turkey pardon and national security briefings. While the campaign plans to acknowledge his birthday on social media, the celebration will remain modest. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also encouraging supporters to sign a virtual birthday card for the president.
Both Biden and Trump have tactfully navigated questions about age. Trump has avoided direct attacks on Biden’s age, instead labeling him as “incompetent.” Meanwhile, Biden, at times, humorously acknowledges his age but mostly frames it as a source of wisdom and experience.
Despite the ongoing concerns and polling data regarding his age, Biden’s team emphasizes his experience, especially in foreign policy, as a significant asset. They highlight his steady leadership and extensive global relations as critical strengths in a turbulent world.
However, polls continue to reflect public doubts about Biden’s physical and mental fitness. In surveys, a significant number of respondents express reservations about his ability to serve effectively, raising concerns about Biden’s prospects in the upcoming elections, particularly among younger voters.
While Biden and his team stress experience over age, a younger generation of voters often brings up concerns about his capacity to understand and address current issues. Progressive groups mobilizing young voters believe Biden’s age won’t be a primary factor in their voting decisions, focusing more on policy alignment and representation of their values.
Ultimately, Biden’s age remains a topic of concern and discussion, with polls indicating a considerable portion of the electorate questioning his fitness for office. This issue continues to shape the political landscape as the country heads into a crucial election year.