As President Joe Biden celebrates his 81st birthday this week, questions about his age continue to loom over his presidency. Recently, people close to the president have reportedly suggested making changes to his image in an effort to combat concerns about his age and health.
According to a report by Politico, those close to the president have discussed having him walk shorter distances on camera and trading in his formal shoes for more comfortable ones. These changes are aimed at making his stride appear less stiff and reducing the risk of falls, which could further fuel speculation about his age and ability to serve as president.
But it's not just those closest to Biden who are worried about the age issue. Democratic strategists and donors are reportedly frustrated with the Biden campaign's handling of the situation. Some have voiced concerns that they haven't done enough to address these concerns with the public. After all, Biden is the oldest U.S. president in history.
Many donors are pushing for the campaign to go on the offense, using Biden's age as proof of his wisdom and experience in turbulent times. They believe that embracing Biden's nickname of 'Grandpa Joe' and injecting more humor into his image could help ease the concerns of voters. However, there are concerns that this strategy could backfire and draw even more attention to his age.
“People close to Biden have discussed having him walk shorter distances while on camera
“They’ve also advocated, at times, trading in formal shoes for more comfortable ones — both to make his stride seem less stiff, but also to reduce the risk of falls” https://t.co/J1gda9HhpC
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) November 19, 2023
The issue of age is not just a concern for donors and strategists, but also for members of Biden's own family. Sources close to Biden say that while they believe he is mentally up for the job, they acknowledge that he can at times appear frail. This has led to ongoing discussions about how to handle his image and public appearances.
Despite these concerns, the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) have been reluctant to openly address the issue of his age. According to Politico, after raising concerns about Biden's age, one donor said that DNC officials "refused to acknowledge it was a problem."
Meanwhile, former Obama adviser David Axelrod recently warned that the "age issue" was the one thing hanging over Biden's presidency. He cited a CNN poll that showed concerns about his age as one of the top issues among voters.
The campaign's efforts to downplay age-related concerns are not limited to image changes. According to a report by Axios from September, Biden's team is working to limit his stair climbs and have him wear tennis shoes in order to prevent any mishaps that could be attributed to his age.
As Biden continues to navigate his presidency, it is clear that his age will remain a point of focus. While his supporters believe that he is mentally up for the job, concerns about his age and health continue to linger. It remains to be seen whether the changes to his image and public appearances will be enough to quell these concerns and allow him to focus on leading the country.