WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden turned 81 on Monday, marking the milestone with a low-key family celebration as voters raise concerns about his age heading into the 2024 election.
Biden continued a long-running White House Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning two turkeys on the South Lawn, using the moment to poke fun at himself regarding his age.
“It’s my birthday today,” he said. “I just want you to know, it’s difficult turning 60.”
Despite the jokes, poll after poll shows Biden’s age remains one of his biggest election liabilities heading into next year’s election as the public feel his physical and mental fitness have declined.
At Monday’s event, Biden appeared to confuse pop stars Britney Spears and Taylor Swift, saying the turkey’s travel schedule is “harder than getting a ticket to the Renaissance tour or Britney’s tour she on -– it’s kind of warm in Brazil right now,” appearing to confuse Spears with Swift, who is currently on the South America leg of her Eras tour.
Officials at the White House and the campaign privately acknowledge age is a vulnerability. A poll by Monmouth University in October found 76% of voters believe Biden is too old to serve a second term. That’s compared with 48% who said the same about Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who is 77.
An NBC News poll released Sunday found Biden is trailing in a hypothetical rematch against Trump with voters ages 18 to 34. Trump had 46% of young voters while Biden is supported by 42%.
Concerns about Biden’s age has prompted a Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who has openly said he believes the President is too old to continue on serving.
Both the White House and campaign staff have attempted to change public perception of the age concern, working to eliminate potential gaffes and project vigor. In the past few months, Biden has started using a smaller, shorter set of stairs more frequently to board Air Force One.
Biden is aware of voter concerns and has acknowledged his age, saying it is more about wisdom than the number.
“I don’t look it, but I’m 180 years old. I’ve been around a long time,” he joked to donors at a recent fundraiser.
“I have more experience than any president has in the history of the United States,” he said at another fundraiser. “One of the things that comes with age, hopefully, is wisdom.”
The White House echoed Biden’s comments at Monday’s press briefing. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged that some Americans have their minds made up on Biden’s age.
“We’re not going to change the minds of Americans. I get that. Americans are going to feel how they feel, and we’re going to respect that,” she said. “What I can tell you is what our perspective is. What I can tell you is how we see things. And we believe this president having experience to get things done is important.”