Joe Biden, America’s oldest president, gained backing from an unlikely source: Donald Trump said the Democrat was “not too old” to run for re-election, but immediately added, “I think he’s incompetent.”
The former president’s remarks, which will be broadcast on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, come as America faces a significant discussion over the aging of its political elite, a crucial concern ahead of the 2024 elections, when Biden will be just shy of 82 and Trump himself will be 78.
While the age difference between the two men is tiny, polls show that Americans are more concerned about Biden’s age, with one survey finding that three out of four respondents doubt his capacity to serve a second term.
The fact that Trump completed his presidency as the second-oldest president ever (Ronald Reagan was 77 at the end of his term) provides a challenge for the real estate mogul in portraying Biden as too “sleepy” to do the job.
But it hasn’t stopped the Republican, who would be 82 by the end of a second term, from trying.
“Some of the greatest world leaders have been in their 80s,” he told NBC. “I’m not anywhere very near 80, by the way.
“And Biden’s not too old,” Trump added. “But I think he’s incompetent, and that’s a bigger problem.”
Biden, who overcame a stuttering problem as a youth, has often been mocked for his verbal stumbles.
However, he remains trim and physically active, does not drink, and is frequently seen riding his bicycle on weekends in his Delaware home.
Democrats claim he’s also competent, having presided over the adoption of key measures such as a massive infrastructure bill, the largest gun-control bill in decades, and the Build Back Better social spending program.
Biden has also been involved in international affairs. Indeed, during his recent trip to Vietnam, which critics think was orchestrated in part to highlight his energy, the country’s 79-year-old Communist leader smiledly praised Biden on his youth.
Trump, for his part, has gotten mostly positive marks during annual physicals — though he has been classed as overweight and does no exercise other than golf. Like Biden, he does not drink.
Trump, too, has had his share of bizarre verbal moments, mangled pronunciations and physical stumbles.
But in the NBC interview he said his own age does not concern him, noting that his parents had long lives.
“So genetically, that’s a good thing.”
His insistence on his own competency was ridiculed during the 2020 presidential campaign when Trump said he had scored an “amazing” result on what he said was a test of mental acuity.
He said he had had to remember, in order, these words: “Person, woman, man, camera, TV.”
His proud and repeated recitation of those five words was ridiculed by political rivals and went viral on social media.
Still, in an apparent reference to that test made in the NBC interview, Trump said, “I aced it. I got everything right.”