Biden's Age Reemerges as an Issue

White House balks amid concerns about 'geriatric leadership'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
Biden's Age Reemerges as an Issue
President Biden walks to the Oval Office of the White House after stepping off Marine One on Monday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The White House is brushing off concerns that the 79-year-old president's age could affect his reelection bid as "fallacious" and not worth listening to. Asked Monday whether President Biden could handle another presidential campaign, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told CNN, "That is not a question that we should be even asking." She added: "I can't even keep up with him. We just got back from New Mexico, we just got back from California ... just look at the work that he does ... how he's delivering for the American public." What's driving the debate:

  • Jean-Pierre was responding specifically to a New York Times report indicating Democrats feel Biden's age presents "a deep concern about his political viability." The report states the president, who'd be 81 during the 2024 campaign and 86 at the end of a second term, has "built a reputation for gaffes" and "repeatedly rattled global diplomacy with unexpected remarks."

  • It also quotes David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaigns, as saying, "The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue." However, he goes on to say Biden's age "has fed a narrative about competence that isn't rooted in reality."
  • Age concerns should also apply to possible Republican opponent Donald Trump, who will be 78 during the 2024 campaign, writes Axios' Mike Allen. With diversity and technology transforming the culture and workplace, "that can leave geriatric leadership of government out of step with everyday life." Allen also points to a recent comment from David Gergen, an advisor to four presidents, who said both Biden and Trump should "step back and leave open the door to younger people."

  • But on the right, Rich Lowry argues Democrats are plugging their ears to concerns about Biden's age mainly because of Vice President Kamala Harris. "She's simply a political void whose abysmal ratings reflect not just Biden's troubles but her own profound, inherent flaws as a political figure," he writes at the New York Post. Indeed, she "makes Biden look like a prospective electoral juggernaut by comparison."
  • If something were to take Biden out of the running, "there is little consensus about who would lead" the Democratic Party, per the Times. Democrats, few of whom expect Harris to step in unopposed, have put forth names including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders (now 80), Elizabeth Warren, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (aged 40).

  • Allies say Biden is best suited to defeat Trump, per the Times. Others say a fresh face will be needed to defeat someone like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is 43. For now, the youngest Democratic member of Congress is refusing to say whether she'd back Biden. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN on Sunday, per Fox News. "Should he run again? I think that I ... you know, I think it's ... we'll take a look at it."
(Read more President Biden stories.)

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