President Biden on Sunday conceded that his age could be a “legitimate” concern for voters in 2024 — while insisting that he’s “functioning” well despite a string of blunders.
The 79-year-old president was asked by MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart what he would tell the journalist’s aunt, Gloria, who voted for Biden in 2020 but isn’t sure he should seek reelection because of his age.
“I think it’s a legitimate thing to be concerned about anyone’s age, including mine,” Biden said in the interview that aired on Sunday.
“And I think the best way to make the judgment is to watch me. Am I slowing up? Do I have the same pace?” he continued, referring to discussions about how the 70s are the new 50s.
But he said, “I’m a great respecter of fate. I could get a disease tomorrow. I could drop dead tomorrow.”
Biden has had to confront queries about his age as he mulls mounting a reelection campaign that would put him at 86 at the end of a second term.
They also come amid his persistent gaffes and vocal stumbles that have led to questions about his mental and physical abilities.
A poll earlier this month by Issues & Insights/TIPP found that 64% of Americans were “concerned” about Biden’s mental well being, an increase from 59% in August. Even 52% of Democrats expressed a similar sentiment.
Last month, during an event at the White House, Biden called out the late Rep. Jackie Walorski for praise — forgetting that the Indiana Republican was killed in a car crash in August.
His obvious mental fog spurred widespread discussion over his mental fitness, with that day’s White House briefing devolving into shouting as press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted her boss simply had the late congresswoman “top of mind” — without addressing why he thought she was alive.
And in another part of the interview with Capehart, Biden appeared to zone out when he was asked if first lady Jill Biden was behind him running for reelection.
“I have not made that formal decision but it’s my intention . . . to run again and we’ll have time to make that decision,” Biden told the host in an excerpt of the interview released Friday.
“Dr. Biden is for it?” Capehart followed up.
But the president didn’t respond and appeared to look down at the floor.
“Mr. President —,” Capehart said.
“Dr. Biden thinks that — my wife thinks that I, uh — that we’re doing something very important,” Biden answered.
In the portion of the interview that aired Sunday, Biden said Americans should judge him on his capability to serve.
”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, then that’s fine. If they don’t, then they should vote against me. Not against me, they should encourage me not to go,” he said.
Turning again to the concerns of Capehart’s Democrat-voting aunt, Biden said she should take a “hard look” at him.
“And if she concludes that I’m missing a beat then she should support some other Democrats if they decide to run,” he said.
“But Jonathan, right now, knock on wood, I don’t want to jinx myself, I’m in good health, all of my – everything physically about me is still functioning well and mentally, too,” the president added. “But I understand people wanting to ask that question.”
Biden also took another shot at Trump’s Make America Great Again supporters, and showered praise on Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
“Look, I don’t agree with anything that Liz Cheney believes about the substantive issues, but I admire the hell out of her,” Biden said.
“She means what she says, she doesn’t support the notion of use of violence, she doesn’t support the notion, she insists that there are basic fundamental rules. And it used to be that way all through the Senate,” he said.
Cheney lost to a Trump-backed challenger in Wyoming’s August Republican primary and will be out of Congress at the first of the year.
While touting Cheney, Biden once again slammed the MAGA movement.
“I think that if we allow the Republican Party to continue to metastasize into what a minority of the party as a whole is, I – look, I think one of the reasons there’s not more mainstream conservative Republicans running out there is because they are so concerned about not only their physical well-being but also the notion that, how can they win when a minority of Republicans are showing up to vote and they’re really hard edge?” he said.