President Joe Biden
Voters have repeatedly said they are worried about Biden’s age.In the wake of special counsel Robert Hur’s report, Democrats are rallying around the president.They are also quick to point out Trump’s own lapses.
Democrats are betting voters don’t care if President Joe Biden flubs a foreign leader’s name or key detail.
In the wake of special counsel Robert Hur’s blistering report, top officials might privately fret about their party’s leader. But the moment has long passed for an LBJ-esque bombshell announcement that Biden will abandon his reelection campaign. As the president made clear last night, he firmly believes he’s the best Democrat to win in November.
“I’m the most qualified person in this country to be President of the United States and finish the job I started,” Biden told a reporter, who mentioned the president’s past comment that other Democrats could beat Trump.
The early responses to Hur’s conclusion that Biden would likely present himself to a jury “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” are punctuated by public assurances that Biden remains fit to serve, attacks on the special counsel for veering into the territory of geriatric memory, and pointing out that the other 70-something challenger in the race experiences his own lapses.
“I want you to find me the voter who says, ‘I will not vote for him, because he said Mitterrand and not Macron,” former White House communications Kate Bedingfield said laughing on CNN after the report’s release.
Twice in recent days, Biden has confused long-dead foreign leaders with their very much alive counterparts. In this case, Bedingfield was referencing how Biden talked about François Mitterrand, who died in 1996, instead of current French President Emmanuel Macron. It likely didn’t help matters that hours later, Biden called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi “the President of Mexico” while defending his memory in the wake of Hur’s report.
Polling shows this remains a risky proposition. Voters have long said they are concerned about Biden’s age. A January NBC News poll found that 62% of voters had “major concerns” about the president’s not having “the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term.” NBC News reported that one unnamed Biden ally called the report’s release “the worst day of his presidency.”
The news is potentially damaging not in the sense that it breaks new ground but that it adds new details to a vulnerability that was already present. Voters have also said that they don’t want a 2020 rematch. And yet, there is little reason to doubt absent a calamity that is exactly the choice they will face in November.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat who helped lead Trump’s second impeachment, echoed the White House’s belief that Hur went far beyond his job description when he opined on the president’s faculties.
“He did take some gratuitous slaps at Joe Biden, because of his age, and a lot of these age discriminatory and age insulting remarks are getting rather tiresome — all we really need from a special prosecutor [sic] like Hur is a decision whether there is legal ground to move forward,” Raskin told CNN on Thursday night. He said there’s not.”
Other Democrats pointed to Biden’s record.
“He has even recently, completely dominated the Republicans,” Rep. Dan Goldman, a New York Democrat, said on MSNBC Friday morning. “You look at the Fiscal Responsibility Act, he did a fabulous job,” he said. “He knew exactly where the negotiation was going to go and he took Kevin McCarthy’s shirt.”
For all their efforts to brush aside the report’s unflattering views, the White House took the episode seriously enough to have Biden make a previously unscheduled appearance before reporters where he took brief questions.
Biden also lashed out at Hur’s note that the president could not specifically recall when his son Beau died during their five-hour interview that took place over two days.
“How in the hell dare he raise that?” “I don’t need anyone to remind me when he passed away,” Biden said of his son, who died from complications of brain cancer in 2015.
House Speaker Mike Johnson argued that Hur’s report was evidence that Biden is unfit to serve the nation.
“The President’s press conference this evening further confirmed on live television what the Special Counsel report outlined,” Johnson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, after Biden’s brief appearance. “He is not fit to be President.”
Democrats were quick to point out that Trump, Biden’s almost certain challenger, has suffered his own recent flubs. The former president’s own standing became such a topic on the campaign trail that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis launched a “Trump accident tracker.” Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recently swiped at Trump after the former president confused her with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Donald Trump couldn’t remember who his own wife was during his trial for sexual assault,” a Democratic National Committee account posted on X.