(The Hill) — President Joe Biden in an interview aired Sunday said it’s a “legitimate thing” for voters to be concerned about his age but argued they should judge him on his energy and passion for the job.
“I think it’s a legitimate thing to be concerned about anyone’s age, including mine. I think that’s totally legitimate,” Biden, who is 79, told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart.
“But I think the best way to make the judgment is to watch me,” he continued. “I’m a great respecter of fate. I could get a disease tomorrow. I could drop dead tomorrow. In terms of my energy level. In terms of how much I’m able to do, I think people should look and say, ‘Does he still have the same passion for what he’s doing?’ And if they think I do and I can do it, that’s fine. If they don’t, they should… encourage me not to go. But that’s not how I feel.”
Biden was the oldest president ever to take office when he was sworn in at age 78. He will turn 80 on Nov. 20, an age he joked to Capehart he couldn’t bring himself to say.
When asked about his age, Biden often points to his daily schedule and regular travel domestically and internationally to argue he can keep up with the demands of the job.
The president’s age has been a point of contention since he first announced his candidacy for the 2020 election, with Republicans attacking his mental fitness for the job and some Democrats arguing it was time for a new generation of leadership.
Republicans have seized on Biden’s occasional gaffes to argue he is too old and has lost a step, such as when he called out to recognize a former congresswoman at a White House event even though she had died weeks earlier.
The age question has also persisted for Biden among Democrats as polls have shown voters might prefer another candidate in 2024.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll in late September found that 56 percent of Democrats want the party to choose a different nominee for president in 2024, while 35 percent said they wanted Bident to seek a second term.
The president has repeatedly said he intends to run again, though he has not formally declared his intentions for 2024.