Biden Tries Desperately to Reassure Americans About His Age: Does Anyone Buy It?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Joe Biden understands he has an age problem. So do Democrats wishing he would drop out of the race. But even with their acknowledgments and attempts to spin the issue, the American public remains doubtful about his ability to serve out a second term in office.

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During a recent speech at a fundraiser, Biden attempted to assuage concerns about his age and cognitive abilities.

President Biden at a New York City fund-raising trip on Monday evening outlined why he's running for re-election and addressed concerns about his age.

Driving the news: "A lot of people seem focused on my age," the 80-year-old president said, per a pool report from the Broadway fund-raiser. "I get it believe me, I know it more than anyone.

But he said he"knew what to do" to combat COVID and when Russian military forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"That's why I'm running," he said. "I'm running because democracy is at stake," he added, pointing to his closest 2024 election rival, 77-year-old former President Trump.

"Because 2024 democracy is on the ballot once again. And let there be no question: Donald Trump and his MAGA republicans are determined to destroy American democracy. And I will always defend, protect and fight for our democracy."

Nevertheless, there is no denying that age has become a prominent factor in the upcoming presidential election. However, the age issue has been far more deleterious to Biden than to former President Donald Trump, who is in his late 70s. Numerous polls show that even Democratic voters believe Biden’s age is a problem.

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But few offered confident assessments that Biden’s stubbornly low approval ratings would rebound before next year, and many conceded that one of the president’s most significant challenges is one he has no control over: his age. Supporters and critics alike suggested that Biden’s prospects may hinge on whether he can find a way to overcome a persistent and growing feeling in the electorate that his advanced age is his defining characteristic.

An August survey from Associated Press/NORC found that 77 percent of Americans, including 69 percent of Democrats, thought Biden was too old to be effective for another four-year term. When asked what word came to mind when they thought of Biden, more than a quarter of respondents mentioned age, with another 15 percent using words like “slow” or “confused.”

Other polls are also flashing warning signs for Democrats. A CNN/SSRS survey found that Biden’s approval rating was mired at 39 percent, with nearly three-quarters of respondents saying they were concerned about his age. The poll also found that most Democrats want the party to nominate a different presidential candidate.

A recent CBS News poll shows Trump in a statistical dead heat with Biden despite his ongoing legal battles. Moreover, it reveals that voter enthusiasm among Biden supporters than it is among those who back Trump.

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There has been much talk among Democratic circles of replacing Biden as the nominee. But the president remains the presumptive nominee. The fact that Democrats don’t plan to have the president debate against other Democratic contenders all but completely seals the deal.

In light of this, Biden’s reassurances will likely ring hollow for the Democratic base, most of whom will still vote for him in the general election. But when it comes to independents and moderates, these concerns could very well push them into Trump’s camp, even if they do not have a favorable opinion of the former president. At this point, the age issues are baked into the Biden cake. Democrats will have to hope they can convince the voting public to fear another Trump term more than letting Biden remain in the White House.

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