Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks about Joe Biden’s age aren’t what Democrats and Biden aides wanted to hear. The two-time presidential loser wasn’t trying to damage Joe Biden, but she did: she kept the age and mental competency concerns alive. It’s a top voter concern that no serious political observer can ignore as a niche subject. Even ardent Democrats, like David Axelrod, a former top Obama adviser, noted the mountains of poll data regarding voters’ worries about Biden’s age.
The former first lady said that Biden’s age does matter. It’s a “legitimate issue,” but added that Donald Trump’s age should also be considered. Clinton later said that Biden needs to lean on his experience when trying to pivot on this topic (via NY Post):
Former First Lady Hillary Clinton said she believes President Biden’s age is a “legitimate” campaign issue even as the commander-in-chief is under fire over a damning special counsel’s report accusing him of being senile.
“I talked to people in the White House all the time, and you know, they know it’s an issue, but as I like to say, ‘look, it’s a legitimate issue,’” Clinton told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner earlier this week. “It’s a legitimate issue for [ex-President Donald] Trump who’s only three years younger, right? So it’s an issue.”
The former Democrat presidential nominee and secretary of state also said during Wednesday’s interview that it might be hard for Biden and Trump to connect with younger voters, the president should highlight his background as an “experienced” leader.
“I think Biden also should lean into the fact that he’s experienced and that experience is not just in the political arena,” she said. “It’s like, the stuff of, you know, human experience, character, wisdom.
“I think he should be willing to really pull that out … and I think he should kid more about it.”
But it’s not a legitimate issue for Trump because the former president, who will soon become the 2024 Republican nominee, doesn’t have the mental errors like Biden. Trump doesn’t claim to speak with dead European leaders. Trump has also never fallen as Biden did in front of US Air Force cadets, can deliver complete sentences, albeit indelicate at times, and comes off as more energetic and vibrant. That’s because he is. As Bill Maher noted, Biden is frail and old, but Trump is like Kiss—just put the face paint and the wig on, and he sounds as he did back in 1978.
Biden tried to “lean into” his experience when responding to the report by Special Counsel Robert Hur about his mishandling of classified materials, which contained numerous passages about the president’s foggy memory. It was an unmitigated disaster, where Biden lashed out at the press and got the names of the presidents of Mexico and Egypt mixed up. So, yes, tackling the age issue head-on by being more out there in public is the right path, but Biden has shown consistently that he lacks the composure and mental acuity to pull it off. He’s also a president who lacks political skills. He’s not Obama or Bill Clinton. He’s bumbling Biden, who is now older and apparently can’t remember when his son, Beau, died.
Even when trying to set up a defense for Joe, the age and mental health issues bubble up, which are the only things that voters will remember, especially when they see him more often in the coming weeks and months as the 2024 election kicks off.