The White House press secretary on Monday night laughed off the question of whether Joe Biden had the ‘physical and mental stamina’ to run for a second term, describing an article at the weekend questioning his fitness as ‘malicious’.
The 79-year-old president has insisted he intends to run again in 2024, and would be 82 on inauguration day if he wins.
He has faced a barrage of questions about his advancing years – most recently on Sunday, when multiple Democrat sources told The New York Times they were concerned.
On Saturday, he was asked whether he would visit Saudi Arabia, and replied that he had not yet decided – only to say, 20 seconds later, why he was making the trip.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House spokesperson, gasped in horror when asked by CNN’s Don Lemon about Biden’s fitness for office after 2024.
‘Don, you’re asking me this question!’ she said, aghast.
‘Oh my gosh. He’s the president of the United States!’
Jean-Pierre, 47, said that she had been impressed by his energy and work ethic.
‘You know, I can’t even keep up with him,’ she said.
‘We just got back from New Mexico. We just got back from California.
‘That is not a question that we should even be asking.
‘Just look at the work he does. And look how he’s delivering for the American public.’
She said the New York Times story was cruel.
The paper quoted a mix of rank-and-file Democrats and senior figures, all raising concerns about the issue as the mid-term elections approach.
Jean-Pierre said their speculation was unfounded.
‘That article that you’re talking about – it’s hearsay, it’s malicious,’ she said.
‘That’s not what we care about.
‘We care about how we are going to deliver for the American people. How we’re going to make their lives better.
‘That’s what the president talks about.
‘That is his focus. And that’s what we’ll continue to focus on.’
Axios chimed in with a story on the American gerontocracy, noting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is 82 and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer is 71.
Even longtime commentator David Gergen, 80, told PBS NewsHour: ‘I think people like Biden and Trump ought to both step back and leave open the door to younger people.’
David Axelrod, 67, who helped propel Barack Obama’s ascent with a campaign that featured youthful energy and a ‘hope’ slogan, said Biden’s advancing years were indeed a liability on the campaign trail.
‘The presidency is a monstrously taxing job and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term – and that would be a major issue,’ said Axelrod.
‘I need an equivalent of Ron DeSantis, a Democrat, but not a 70- or 80-year-old — a younger person,’ said Maryland data analyst Alex Wyshyvanuk, 33.
‘Someone who knows what worked for you in 1980 is not going to work for you in 2022 or 2024,’ he said.
This is an excerpt from Daily Mail.