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Biden Celebrates 81st Birthday Amid Voter Concerns Over Age




Despite his aides regularly defending him against doubts about his suitability as commander-in-chief, Biden often emphasizes the wisdom that comes with age or adopts a lighthearted approach.

“Turning 60 is tough,” the president chuckled during the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House on Monday, which coincided with his birthday.

“This marks the 76th anniversary of this event – and I want you to know I wasn’t there for the first one,” he quipped.

However, a recent incident in which he confused US singers Taylor Swift and Britney Spears is likely to reinforce concerns among voters, especially following a series of trips and verbal slip-ups.

Footage of Biden stumbling on the stairs of Air Force One went viral, leading to alterations in the aircraft’s stairs. Additionally, he has occasionally given long-winded answers during press conferences.

What’s more, voters don’t seem to harbor the same apprehensions about his likely election rival Donald Trump, despite the fact that Trump is 77 and has made similar gaffes.

For instance, in a speech in September, Trump erroneously claimed that the United States was on the verge of “World War II,” and he recently identified Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as the leader of Turkey.

– ‘Lucid’ –

According to David Karol, a government and politics professor at the University of Maryland, Biden is “not doing a lot wrong” but is struggling to alter perceptions about his age and other issues like the economy.

“He is lucid, but people just have this perception,” Karol told AFP.

The White House has dismissed opinion polls, citing recent Democratic electoral victories and emphasizing that Biden defeated Trump in 2020 despite being 77 at the time.

Despite this, the poll numbers paint a grim picture for the party. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll revealed that 74% of respondents believe Biden would be too old to serve a second term, compared to 50% for Trump. Meanwhile, a Yahoo/YouGov poll found that 54% of Americans now doubt Biden’s competence to carry out the role of president, up from 41% before the 2020 election.

Some analysts argue that Biden’s age should not be a determining factor.

The issue has been unfairly “weaponized” in US politics in general, according to S. Jay Olshansky, a longevity researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Aging is not what it used to be,” Olshansky told AFP.

“There are very large segments of the population that survive to their eighth decade perfectly capable of being president, or doing whatever they like.”

– ‘Super-Agers’ –

Olshansky noted that both Biden and Trump are likely to be “Super-Agers,” a term coined by researchers to describe a small group of individuals who retain their mental faculties until late in life.

His research also suggests that for US presidents, “biological time seems to tick at a slower pace” than for other individuals, as they seem to thrive under the stress of the job.

Despite this, Biden’s campaign has begun highlighting Trump’s own slip-ups.

Nevertheless, the Democrat’s age is set to face even greater scrutiny during a challenging election campaign.

Republicans have targeted Vice President Kamala Harris – the person next in line for the presidency – should the worst happen. Harris, while breaking barriers as the first woman, Black person, and person of South Asian descent to hold the vice president’s office, has approval ratings as low as her boss’s, standing at under 40%.