Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

Biden’s about to turn 80. Don’t expect a blowout birthday bash.

Biden’s about to turn 80. Don’t expect a blowout birthday bash.

The milestone is being met with some trepidation inside the West Wing.

It will be a birthday like no other in White House history. But those inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are not keen on having a blow-out celebration.

President Joe Biden will turn 80 years old next month, becoming the first commander-in-chief to become an octogenarian while in office. The Nov. 20 birthday will come two weeks after the midterms and will likely intensify scrutiny of Biden’s health and speculation as to whether he will seek another term.

If he were to win again, Biden — who already holds the distinction of being the oldest president elected — would be 82 when he takes the oath of office a second time and 86 on his successor’s Inauguration Day. His age has always been a sensitive topic among his closest allies and planning is underway as to how to best navigate the occasion.

White House aides are keenly aware of the storylines surrounding his age and are bracing for the inevitable news cycle. The topic has been met with some trepidation in the West Wing and senior aides have called around to Biden world allies to seek advice on how to best handle the date that will surely draw significant attention from reporters and Republicans alike.

For now, the plan is likely to downplay the birthday and simply focus on the work, according to those familiar with the discussions.

“Like President Biden has said, anyone with questions about his age should just watch him: he has delivered record job creation, made NATO the strongest it has ever been, and amassed the most significant legislative record since LBJ in less than half of one term,” said Andrew Bates, White House spokesman. “I don’t have a comment about whether POLITICO is invited to his birthday.”

Biden is not the first president for which age has become a matter of politics. Famously, one of his predecessors, Dwight Eisenhower, declared that “no one should ever sit in this office over 70 years old, and that I know.”

Eisenhower left office in 1961 not long after he hit that age. But while attitudes toward aging have changed in the decades since, White House aides know Biden’s birthday will be inherently political — as a reminder of the choice voters could face about his fitness for office.

“We haven’t had an 80-year-old president before, but if any lesson emerges from modern history, it is that if a president seems vigorous and well and is doing the job, age has been less of a factor for voters,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss. “When a president plans to run for reelection at an age the voters haven’t seen before, history suggests that the burden has been on the candidate to show that age will not be a problem.”

Although Biden makes a point of marking other important family days — including Thanksgiving and the anniversary of his son Beau’s death — he rarely does much for his birthday. That is unlikely to change this year, though no plans have been finalized, according to those close to him.

Biden tends to celebrate his birthday with his family. A year ago, he spent the day, a Saturday, at his Wilmington, Del., home except when he ventured out to church. This year, it will come as much of his family will already be in Washington to celebrate the White House wedding of his granddaughter Naomi the day before.

Chatter about Biden’s age has been pervasive throughout the Beltway ever since he signaled he was launching his third presidential campaign back in 2019. He had visibly aged since his time as vice president, growing thinner, with less hair. His stride had also shortened and slowed, not helped by the broken foot he suffered while playing with one of his dogs during the transition.

Then President-elect Joe Biden points to the boot on his foot he broke on Dec. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Del.

The chatter has been fed by eyebrow-raising moments from Biden himself, such as when he spoke at a hunger insecurity conference and called out for an Indiana congresswoman who had died in a car crash months before.

“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie? She must not be here,” Biden said, appearing to forget, or be unaware, that Rep. Jackie Walorski had died.

But White House aides dismissed the notion that such remarks — and other missteps — are a sign of age or a lack of mental acuity and note the extraordinary demands and pressures of the job. And Biden himself has long dubbed himself a “gaffe machine.”

Those close to Biden acknowledge that he tires more easily and, when he does, becomes more prone to such gaffes and sees his stutter become more pronounced. The president has scoffed at the notion that he is too old to run and has signaled that he intends to stand for re-election.

At times, however, he has also had fun with his age, joking to aides about how he is often the oldest in the room.

“The very first president to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was Calvin Coolidge in 1924. I had just been elected to the United States Senate,” Biden joked at the April black-tie dinner. “I remember telling him, ‘Cal, just be yourself. Get up there and speak from the heart. You’re going to be great, kid.’”

Aides both inside and outside the White House have taken steps to prepare for another campaign. They’ve suggested that a campaign kickoff would likely come in the first few months of 2023, which would be commensurate to when other presidents signaled their re-election plans.

Those closest to the president say that family discussions about running, with first lady Jill Biden playing a leading role, could begin over the holidays with a final decision likely coming early in the new year. Some Democrats have quietly wondered if Biden is too old to run again but many close to the president suspect that he will — especially if Donald Trump does.

“The average voter doesn’t care about this. The average voter wants to know what Joe Biden is going to do to make their lives better,” said Jim Messina, who was President Barack Obama’s campaign manager for his 2012 re-election bid. “The White House’s job won’t be to talk about his age, they will sell all the stuff they have done. This guy has done historic things.”

Prior to Biden, the oldest man elected president was Ronald Reagan at the age of 69.

Though known for his own verbal missteps, Trump already tried to make Biden’s age an issue in their first matchup — dubbing his opponent “Sleepy Joe” and claiming he was no longer with it — to little impact. But Republican attacks have only continued, with a persistent drumbeat that Biden is not fit to hold office.

“I think we’re all concerned for President Biden’s mental health,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), a physician, said recently. Without any specific evidence, he added that he had seen a “deterioration” in the president.

But Biden advisers believe the 2020 race dealt with the current president’s age — “Americans already know how old the guy is,” one said recently — and that voters have grown more comfortable with older people in positions of power, whether in politics or business.

To that end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is running for re-election this year, is 82. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is 71. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is 89.

And Trump, the presumed GOP favorite for 2024, is 76.


Related Articles

Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police