By AAMER MADHANI
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden joked that it’s difficult acknowledging he’s about to turn 80, but said he’s physically and mentally capable of serving a potential second term in the White House.
Biden, who turns 80 on Nov. 20, said it’s “totally legitimate” for voters to question whether someone his age can manage the demanding stresses of the American presidency. Biden made the comment in response to a question about his age during an MSNBC interview that aired Sunday.
He said people should judge for themselves whether he is up to the task as polls show that voters would rather not see a rematch with Donald Trump, the Republican ousted by Biden in 2020.
Biden would be 82 on Inauguration Day in January 2025; Trump would be 78,.
A recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll shows only about 3 in 10 people questioned want either Biden or Trump to run for president in two years. Just 5 in 10 Democrats want Biden to seek a second term, while 6 out of 10 Republicans hope to see Trump seek the presidency again.
“I think the best way to make the judgement is to watch me. Am I slowing up? Am I going at the same pace?” Biden said in the interview that was taped Friday during a visit to the Delaware State University campus to promote his student loan debt forgiveness executive order.
Biden has yet to officially announce whether he will run for a second term, but has repeatedly said it is his intention to seek reelection.
During his 2020 campaign, Biden often presented himself as a “transition candidate” who would build a bridge to new Democratic talent.
The age and health of both Biden and Trump loomed throughout a race that was decided by a younger and more diverse electorate and at a moment when the nation is facing no shortage of issues of consequence.
In the MSNBC interview, Biden said voters should look at his “passion” for the work as they consider his age in factoring whether they should vote for him.
Biden joked that he’s still coming to terms with becoming an octogenarian.
“I can’t even say the age I am going to be. I can’t even get it out of my mouth,” Biden said.
Biden went through a battery of blood, physical, gastrointestinal, dental, vision and neurological examinations shortly before his birthday last year.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s primary care physician, wrote in a six-page memo released by the White House after that exam that Biden was “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”
O’Connor said he investigated Biden for increased instances of “throat clearing” during public remarks and a stiffening of his gait.
O’Connor reported that Biden’s coughing was the result of gastrointestinal reflux and that the stiffened gait was the result of a new diagnosis of “mild peripheral neuropathy,” spinal arthritis and compensation for a broken foot sustained shortly before he took office.