Joe Biden announced last week that he wants to run again for President of the United States. He ran for the White House for the first time even before the Velvet Revolution, and when he took office two years ago, he was the oldest president in US history. Americans are aware of this, and polls show that for many of them the politician’s old age is a problem.
“As for my age, I can’t say that I think about it, I can’t even say a number. I don’t notice it at all,” the 80-year-old Biden responded on Wednesday to questions from journalists that focused on age after the announcement of his candidacy. The president emphasized that people should look at his campaign and judge him based on it, reports NPR.
“I respect that they focused on it – I would focus on it too. I did a lot of research before I decided to run and I feel good about it. I’m excited about the future,” he added. But not only the media, but also American voters deal with his age.
According to a poll commissioned by NBC News, 70 percent of Americans do not want Biden to defend his mandate. 51 percent of Democrats say the same. For almost half of them, the main reason is the president’s old age.
If re-elected, Biden would take office at age 82 and rule until age 86. According to the tables of American authorities, the average length of the remaining life of an 82-year-old man is less than seven years, with an eight percent probability that he will die within the next year, warns the British station BBC.
According to David Axelrod, former President Barack Obama’s chief campaign strategist and CNN’s chief political commentator, his age is “an undisputed factor.” “When you look at polls and when you look at target groups, he’s the first thing people mention,” he says. “We’re in uncharted waters, we’ve never had a president this old.
A boring politician who has always been around
The Economist magazine recalls that Joe Biden became the main Democratic candidate four years ago mainly because the party needed to agree on a candidate who could defeat Donald Trump. At that time, it was to Biden’s advantage that he was already a well-known face in American politics. In 1972, he became one of the youngest senators and was his vice president for eight years during the Obama administration.
“He was a man who was always there, a man whose appeal lay in the fact that he was a little boring in a time of too much political excitement,” the weekly reviews his past bid for president amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Even now, the US is in a similar situation. None of the prominent or senior Democrats want to challenge Biden for the party’s nomination, and most respect the tradition that the president has the right to seek re-election.
Biden will probably only test his standing with voters in a fight with the Republican candidate. Although the primaries are still waiting and there are quite a few candidates for the top post, according to all polls, Trump is still the clear favorite. But this may present one problem for Republicans: Trump is only four years younger than the current president. Criticizing Biden for being too old for the position could turn off even his own voters. However, in an NBC poll, “only” 60 percent of Americans thought Trump should not run.
Age also brings experience
Arguments that Biden is too old for the White House are not new. Last year, for example, 54 Republicans signed a letter expressing concern about the president’s mental state and demanding that he be tested for dementia. They highlight several of the president’s lapses or hesitations.
But this year, Biden received confirmation from doctors that he is healthy and able to devote himself fully to the office. He also still works out five days a week.
Before the last election, when his critics mentioned his older age, he argued that thanks to him, he also has decades of experience in the Senate, which helps him in negotiations. Axelrod also claims that old age is for many voters a symbol of experience, insight and reason, which plays a crucial role, especially in times of crisis, such as the current Russian aggression in Ukraine.
In the last election, the oldest president also surprisingly attracted young voters, who he managed to attract to the polls in record numbers. “Young people in 2020 overwhelmingly supported the oldest candidate in the election, Bernie Sanders, during the Democratic primaries. And then they came out in overwhelming numbers to vote for Joe Biden,” says Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, head of the progressive nonprofit NextGen America.
According to her, the laws a candidate supports are more important to young progressive voters than their age. Key topics mainly include climate protection, gun ownership reform, marijuana legalization, or student debt cancellation, which Biden has been actively working on for the past two years.
Video: Biden in Kiev showed solidarity in connection with the approaching anniversary of the war in Ukraine (February 20, 2023)
Biden in Kiev showed solidarity in connection with the approaching anniversary of the war in Ukraine | Video: Reuters, Associated Press
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