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Biden at 80: A 'respecter of fate' mulls 2nd White House bid

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By CALVIN WOODWARD, ZEKE MILLER and NATHAN ELLGREN
Biden at 80
FILE - President Joe Biden smiles as he speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. Biden turns 80 on Sunday, Nov. 20. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

People in their 80s lead countries, create majestic art and perform feats of endurance, one even scaling Mount Everest. It's soon time for Joe Biden, who turned 80 on Sunday, to decide whether he has one more mountain to climb — the one to a second term as president.

Questions swirl now about whether he's got what it takes to go for the summit again.

The oldest president in U.S. history, Biden hits his milestone birthday at a crossroads, as he and his family face a decision in the coming months on whether he should announce for reelection.

Biden aides and allies say he intends to run. Yet the president himself can sound equivocal. “My intention is that I run again,” he said at a news conference this month. ”But I’m a great respecter of fate."

“We're going to have discussions about it,” he said. Aides expect those conversations to pick up over the holidays, with no decision until 2023.

To observe Biden at work is to see a leader tap a storehouse of knowledge built up over a half century in public office as he draws on deep personal relationships at home and abroad, his mastery of policy and his familiarity with how Washington works. In short, the wisdom of the aged.

But to observe Biden is also to see him walk now often with a halting gait.

It is to see him take a pass on a formal dinner with other leaders without a real explanation, as happened on his trip abroad this past week. Some supporters wince when he speaks, hoping he gets through his remarks OK.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision, at age 82, to pull back from leadership and let a new generation rise may spill over into Biden's thinking and that of his party as Democrats weigh whether they want to go with a proven winner or turn to the energy of youth.

Among the questions Pelosi's move raises, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an authority on political communications at the University of Pennsylvania: “Even if one is highly competent and successful, is there a point at which one should step aside to give others the opportunity to lead?”

She said: “Pelosi’s decision makes such questions more salient in the context of Biden’s 2020 statement that he was the bridge to a new generation of leaders.”

Biden’s verbal flubs have been the stuff of legend throughout his five-decade political career, so sussing out the impact of age on his acuity is a game for “armchair gerontologists,” as Dr. S. Jay Olshansky, an aging expert, puts it.

In the distorted mirrors of social media commentary, every slip is magnified into supposed proof of senility. A moment of silent reflection by Biden is presented as the president nodding off.

Yet some allies see Biden's blunders as an increasing vulnerability as he's grown older.

In an AP VoteCast survey of the electorate this month, fully 58% of voters said he does not have the mental capability to serve effectively as president. That was a grim picture of the present, not just looking ahead to another potential term.

Before the 2020 election, Olshansky, at the University of Illinois, Chicago, published a paper that predicted both Biden and Republican rival Donald Trump were bound to maintain their good health beyond the end of this presidential term.

Nothing has changed Olshansky's mind.

“While President Biden may chronologically be 80 years old, biologically he probably isn’t,” he said. “And biological age is far more important than chronological age."

Biden is already in the club of high achievers for people his age. Unlike 92% of people 75 and over in the U.S., he still has a job.

And he’s been on a roll. The November elections produced the best result for a Democratic president’s party in midterms in decades. The president also sealed consequential legislative victories in recent months, on climate, infrastructure, health care expansion, military aid to Ukraine and more.

Biden says he begins most days with an 8 a.m. workout.

“If I let it go for a week, I feel it,” he told the “Smartless” podcast. “I used to be able to go for a week and nothing would change.”

White House aides say Biden reads his briefing book deep into the night, holds intensive evening meetings with advisers and doesn't balk at scheduling requests that may have him out late, though rarely up early. Biden has been diagnosed with several common age-related health conditions, none causing serious problems.

Much of the leadership in the U.S. Congress is over 70, especially Democrats, and so were Biden's main rivals in the 2020 Democratic primaries and Trump.

Attribute that, in part, to increasing longevity.

“Life expectancy back around 1900 in the United States was about 50,” Olshansky said, “and we added about 30 years” since.

In Cockeysville, Maryland, outside Baltimore, Nelson Hyman, 85, and his wife, Roz Hyman, 77, credit Biden with getting big things right and especially with appointing a strong team. To these Democrats, that adds up to an effective presidency that taps the value of age in a society that often doesn't.

“I’ve always felt the president is as good as the people that he appoints, and I think he’s appointed some very, very good people, very competent people, and he uses them,” said Roz, a retired counsellor in a psychiatric hospital.

“Now, are you going to ask me, is he going to be competent in two years? Who knows?"

Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said that when a perception takes hold in the public, any slipup can feed it, whether it is relevant or not.

When Biden tumbled on his bicycle in Delaware in June, the mishap fed the perception of a president not at the top of his game physically.

“Those of us that know a little about aging were pretty impressed by the fact that he was on his bicycle to begin with ... that you’ve got somebody who is really active and healthy for his age," said Olshansky. Instead, the focus was on his injury-free fall.

Associated Press writers Mark Sherman and Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


8 Comments
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Go for 2024 Joe....it will be even easier then 2020.....

Just imagine running against a Trump/Lake ticket...with campaign mottoes like;

Trump/Lake - Because two Losers are better than one...

Trump/Lake - Trump is a dump and the Lake is toxic...

Trump/Lake - Because Kari is more fun to "grab" on the trail than Pence...

ROFL...

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

He's done.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

There should be an age limit for presidents. 35-70.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

People jeered and the 'old man' Ronald Reagan in the 80s and even though he was suffering thru the first stages of Alzheimer's (at least during his 2nd term), he did talk with Gorby and negotiated a peaceful end to the Cold War.

Now Joe is the oldest POTUS now and some people lip off about his age too. One factor is that he has battled stuttering his whole life. Besides, he has a track record in law and government and oldest POTUS or not - he is a human being (warts and all) who is willing to work and hash out with others in a democracy. He is NOT and far better than an ill-mannered obnoxious unqualified immature dictatorial treasonous terror mongering undiplomatic uncouth fascist pig who claims to be the Messiah and has no regard for anybody else, maybe not even his worthless SELF.

Joe is just another guy and the recent midterm elections didn't really phase me at all, I just didn't worry about it. Now that the USA has some balance, sanity, honorability back, that's more than good enough. I'll take 'Old Stuttering Joe' any day of the week over that Caligula scum that Joe refers to as 'my predecessor'. After all that crap we've had before, I'm happy now. Happy birthday, Joe.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People jeered and the 'old man' Ronald Reagan in the 80s and even though he was suffering thru the first stages of Alzheimer's (at least during his 2nd term), he did talk with Gorby and negotiated a peaceful end to the Cold War. 

Very true, with the exception that almost all Americans didn’t know he suffered from the disease until really after his death for the most part.

Now Joe is the oldest POTUS now and some people lip off about his age too.

And his cognitive or lack of them and how his mishaps are happening more frequently, most people pretty much suspect what he might be going through, but as with everything else swirling with this administration, you’re not allowed to talk about it for some reason, we pretty much suspect why that is.

One factor is that he has battled stuttering his whole life.

That has nothing to do with anything, absolutely nothing at all.

Besides, he has a track record in law

There are a lot of speculations about that, but cutting through the mustard and show who the real Biden is, from almost derailing and belittling Clarence Thomas’s nomination, telling Hillary Clinton that we have to teach blacks to be more like us, what does that mean? Calling blacks predators and created the “3 strikes” law that has destroyed and devastated more black lives than anything else during the 90’s not to mention so many racist insults and so much more.

Joe is just another guy and the recent midterm elections didn't really phase me at all, I just didn't worry about it.

Well, a lot of Dems are extremely worried about a Republican house because Biden’s spending agenda is over.

Now that the USA has some balance, sanity, honorability back, that's more than good enough.

75% of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Again, 75%.

*I'll take 'Old Stuttering Joe' any day of the week over that Caligula scum that Joe refers to as 'my predecessor'. After all that crap we've had before, I'm happy now. *Happy birthday, Joe.

So you’re of the smaller 25% of Americans that disagree, interesting…

The guy had the chance to be a unifier, but he decided to wage war on the conservatives focus on his toxic policies and pushed an agenda most Americans are not happy with and we have seen it now that they have the lost the House, maybe, just maybe they might see what they destroyed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

One factor is that he has battled stuttering his whole life.

That has nothing to do with anything, absolutely nothing at all.

It's an obstacle he's had to deal with all along.

Besides, he has a track record in law

There are a lot of speculations about that,

There was speculation about Reagan in the distant past. An actor, becoming California governor and then President? There was a lot of speculation on that, then 'Mr. Jingo' surprised everyone by talking with Gorby. Those armchair general diehards didn't like that at all, but he was full of surprises. Still, the Jackson Brown/Carly Simon/Democrat-no-matter-what crowd lipped off about Ronnie no matter what he did. That's being an 'ultraliberal' brickhead.

Joe was a Senator and VP under Obama for 8 years. That says something. And trump? Nothing.

he guy had the chance to be a unifier, but he decided to wage war on the conservatives focus on his toxic policies and pushed an agenda most Americans are not happy with and we have seen it now that they have the lost the House, maybe, just maybe they might see what they destroyed.

If 75% of Americans were dissatisfied, where's that 'red wave' that was predicted? Nope.

At his victory speech Joe said that in the times to come there would be people of various parties debating and hashing things out but that it is alright, it's natural and democracy in action. He was very clear and explicit that one man rule is NOT the way to be. It's not American at all.

Joe knew that and he said that he'd be working with others to work out the issues. That's an improvement over a criminal egotistical sociopathic sassybrat who can't be worked with and who is not fit for any social, diplomatic or social setting.

Joe has done all this before. Not everything he's said before is 'smart'. Every POTUS and VP has said and done some stupid things, as well as good things. Until trump came along, he's not fit to govern a trash can.

Joe hasn't put on a sickening personality cult or claimed to the 'greatest' in anything, let alone the Messiah.

And Trump is not a Democrat, not a Republican, not an Independent, not a Green, nothing but a Caligula fascist pig who was installed by Putin. He's a traitor to the bone.

And now there's some balance and sanity returning after 4 years of an abusive crap dictatorship. D, R, I, G, any party, all parties - it's America now. Not one scumpot screechy criminal - many voices from America's diversity. Joe isn't trying to be a 'unifier' but a negotiator. That's what America is truly all about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's an obstacle he's had to deal with all along. 

And? Many people have stuttering problems and they function well without a glitch. If that were Biden’s only problem, I get it, but that’s not the case.

*There was speculation about Reagan in the distant past. An actor, becoming California governor and then President? There was a lot of speculation on that, then 'Mr. Jingo' surprised everyone by talking with Gorby.Those armchair general diehards didn't like that at all, but he was full of surprises. Still, the Jackson Brown/Carly Simon/Democrat-no-matter-what crowd lipped off about Ronnie no matter what he did. That's being an 'ultraliberal' brickhead. *

Ok, but still, most Americans didn’t know or even understand Alzheimer’s at that time, we didn’t know how severe his condition was until the very end, we don’t even have any photos.

*Joe was a Senator and VP under Obama for 8 years. That says something. And trump? *Nothing.

**Now what we’re Obama’s famous words about his VP….”leave it up to Joe to f* things up.” Yeah, not exactly a positive endorsement.

If 75% of Americans were dissatisfied, where's that 'red wave' that was predicted? Nope.

They got the House, turned Florida and especially Dade county deep red, won and spread congressional seats throughout California and New York, not a wave, something almost impossible to imagine at one point, but huge gains, that’s setting themselves up nicely for 2024

At his victory speech Joe said that in the times to come there would be people of various parties debating and hashing things out but that it is alright,

Yes, he also said that the nation needs to heal and that we need to be unified and what happened? The exact opposite. You’re not even allowed to question this administration and we won’t start with the daily lies they tell us.

it's natural and democracy in action.

Yes, if you allow the opposition to say something and to dissent, but you can’t with this administration. Can’t question 2020, can’t question Dr. Fauci, can’t question the border, can’t question crime or inflation, this is the worst and least transparent administration on record.

*He was very clear and explicit that one man rule is NOT the way to be. *It's not American at all. 

Well, he somehow didn’t get his own memo. Was he incognito there as well?

Joe knew that and he said that he'd be working with others to work out the issues. That's an improvement over a criminal egotistical sociopathic sassybrat who can't be worked with and who is not fit for any social, diplomatic or social setting. 

And yet, he never got us into any wars, none of our adversaries even attempted to take us on and this guy is getting played like a Charlie Daniels fiddle. From Vlad to the Saudi Prince to the Ayatollah, Xi and Maduro, the guy just shows continued weakness on the global stage.

Joe has done all this before. Not everything he's said before is 'smart'.

Now we are both on the same page

Joe hasn't put on a sickening personality cult or claimed to the 'greatest' in anything, let alone the Messiah. 

He doesn’t have to claim anything, the people see it, his party sees it and when he gets in a pickle, they quickly exit him off stage and once again the press are not allowed to ask questions, why?

And Trump is not a Democrat, not a Republican, not an Independent, not a Green,

He’s an American that despises the establishment, that’s why millions love the guy

He's a traitor to the bone. 

No, he never sold the nation out to China to the Iranians, Ukrainians l, Russians, Germany or NATO.

And now there's some balance and sanity returning after 4 years

75% of the nation doesn’t think so. You’re only 25% of the people that for some odd reason thinks things are fine, but not to the average American

Joe isn't trying to be a 'unifier'

Well, that’s his biggest mistake and now that cost him the House and most likely 2024 if he were to run, but that probably won’t happen. Real democracy is when all Americans have equal rights and the same 1st amendment right to speak out and question their government, the left used that privilege extensively and tirelessly for 5 years, but now they don’t want to give the right the same curtesy??? That’s not how democracy works and the Dems still don’t get it, but from January they will.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Walllace,their should be no limit on the age a US President can be elected,even though the statutory age is 35

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