Biden and Trump secure their parties’ presidential nominations

Not even presidents can reverse time, so there’s only so much Joe Biden can do to defuse one of his top general election liabilities – his advanced age.

But Biden, 81, appears to be in far better shape on this question than he was a week ago – and not just because he charged past the magic number of convention delegates needed to clinch the 2024 Democratic nomination on Tuesday evening.

The president’s vigorous State of the Union address has partly reset the political narrative and is still delivering dividends. The prime-time look at Biden in his element, dominating the stage, offered a robust counter-image to the one Americans have sometimes seen – of a bewildered statesman who cited phone chats with dead European leaders and confused Mexico and Egypt in a news conference meant to fix the age issue.

However, one person not ready to let the age issue go is former President Donald Trump, who himself is 77. He put out a video of Biden stumbling on the steps of Air Force One and falling off his bike, seeking to revive his long-term narrative about his rival. The former president’s focus on Biden’s age reflects the fact that one good week will not change a harsh reality of the coming eight months. Any sign of fragility on the campaign trail will revive doubts over Biden’s ability not just to serve but to beat Trump when he’s underwater in multiple swing states and on key electoral issues.

Biden has implicitly acknowledged this will continue to be a vulnerability. In an ad released over the weekend, he said, “I’m not a young guy, that’s no secret. But here’s the deal, I understand how to get things done for the American people.” Biden’s supporters often complain that there is a double standard on age since Trump is not far behind Biden in years. But the ex-president’s bombast and bluster tends to undercut that criticism – something the Biden camp acknowledges by sometimes implicitly arguing that while the president is old, he’s not a wild threat to the rule of law and the Constitution like his predecessor.

Read the full analysis on this moment in Biden’s campaign.


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