Is Joe Biden really too old for a second term?

Is Joe Biden really too old for a second term?

The American presidential campaign is accelerating. But the Democratic camp is still looking for the right strategy to remove doubts around Joe Biden’s state of health.

Never has a debate been organized so early in the electoral campaign – five months before the vote. Both candidates have not even received nominations at their party conventions yet. But the face-to-face between Democratic President Joe Biden and his opponent, Republican Donald Trump, scheduled for June 27 in a studio of the CNN television channel, in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the undecided and key states for the outcome of the presidential election, will be an event. The two men have not faced each other since the 2020 campaign, at the end of which Joe Biden won over the incumbent. And if Trump, despite his legal conviction, continues to saturate the airwaves from meeting to meeting, Biden, whose public appearances remain much more limited and supervised, will be the subject of very particular attention.

The true state of the cognitive faculties of the American president, 81 years old, indeed raises many questions, including among his supporters. On June 6, during the commemoration of the Normandy landings, the cameras showed him trying to sit on a chair that… did not exist, while he stood next to the French presidential couple. During the state visit that followed, the Elysee protocol was instructed to lighten the program. Which did not prevent the American, a few days later, at the G7 summit in Brindisi, from appearing more than once haggard and disoriented, to the point that the President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni , was often obliged to guide him by the arm.

A lack of concentration

During discussions with his counterparts, European diplomats were struck by how quickly he lost his concentration. Finally, he did not attend the dinner hosted by the President of the Italian Republic. Back in the United States, another sequence, in Los Angeles, during a fundraising concert, caused confusion: we see his predecessor, Barack Obama, gently leading a paralysed Joe Biden off stage.

How to manage the issue of age among the oldest president elected across the Atlantic and who is seeking another mandate? After wanting to ignore the subject for a long time, Democratic campaign strategists are forced to tackle it. The images of a “leader of the free world” taking small steps, stumbling, painfully raising his hand in salute can no longer be hidden. The president’s communicators try the humor card. Now, throughout the speeches, Joe Biden reels off jokes about his years: “I’ve been here for a while. » “I know I don’t look my age, I look much younger. » “My old friend “Jimmy” Madison (elected president from 1809 to 1817, Editor’s note) …”

Behind each statement, it is a question of opposing his “experience” or even his “wisdom” to the muddled and uncontrollable personality of the “convict” Donald Trump, 78 years old. But, failing to appear original, does it convince? We are far from the brilliance of the “great communicator” Ronald Reagan, 73 years old at the time. Questioned about his age during a 1984 campaign debate against Democrat Walter Mondale, 56, he put the laughs on his side by retorting: “I don’t want to make age a campaign theme: I will not exploit the youth and inexperience of my opponent for political purposes. »

“During the debate, Donald Trump must add more about Joe Biden’s age,” recommends Republican Erick Erickson, head of an eponymous talk show and who worked on George Bush’s campaign. The conservative television and radio channels did not wait for it, who are unleashed by questioning those who hold the real power in the White House, behind this presumed diminished president.

A desire for new blood

Last month, a survey by Wall Street Journal concluded with the accelerated weakening of an increasingly tired Joe Biden. The theme could pay off. Polls show that public opinion is tired of seeing politicians incapable of giving up. California Senator Dianne Feinstein died in office last fall at age 90. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 82, announced he would run for another term in November. His colleague from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, 82, ended up giving up, a few months ago, to lead the Republican group after repeated moments of absence in public, but wants to sit until 2026.

This month, following a popular initiative, North Dakota adopted a measure aimed at making any candidate for Congress ineligible if he or she reaches the age of 81 during his or her term. The text, undoubtedly unconstitutional, nevertheless reflects the concerns of American voters. On June 27, Joe Biden will therefore have no room for error.

73% of American voters think Joe Biden is too old to be re-elected.

Wall Street Journal poll, September 2023.

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