WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden turned 81 on Monday as concerns about his age continue to dominate his 2024 re-election campaign.
There was no big birthday party.
Instead, Biden marked the day by “pardoning” two turkeys, following long-standing White House tradition before Thanksgiving.
“Today is my birthday,” Biden said as he began the turkey ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. “I just want you to know that it’s hard turning 60,” she joked.
Biden, already the oldest president in US history, would be 86 when he completes a second term if he is re-elected.
Biden said Steve Lykken, president of the National Turkey Federation, and Lykken’s family sang “Happy Birthday” to him inside the White House before the event.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will celebrate his birthday this week with his family in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where the Bidens historically travel for Thanksgiving, and enjoy coconut pie. , one of the Biden family favorites.
Biden has often downplayed his octogenarian status (“I know I’m 198,” the president joked in June), as poll after poll shows it remains one of his biggest electoral disadvantages.
A Monmouth University poll in October found that 76% of voters believe Biden is too old to effectively serve a second term, compared to 48% who said the same about Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has 77 years old.
“Our perspective is that it’s not about age. It’s about the president’s experience,” Jean-Pierre said, responding to concerns about age. “I would put the president’s resilience, his wisdom and his ability to get things done on behalf of the American people against anyone on any day of the week.”
But an NBC News poll released Sunday found Biden trailing in a hypothetical rematch against Trump among voters ages 18 to 34, a group that historically forms part of the Democratic base. Trump has the support of 46% of young voters; Biden has the support of 42%.
The poll found that Biden’s approval rating has fallen to 40%, an all-time low for the poll, and that Trump, despite his multiple accusations and legal problems, leads nationally in a hypothetical showdown 46%-44. %.
Jean-Pierre acknowledged that some Americans have harsher opinions about Biden.
“We are not going to change the mentality of Americans. I understand that. Americans are going to feel what they feel and we are going to respect that,” he said. “What I can tell you is what our perspective is. What I can tell you is how we see things. And we think it’s important that this president has the experience to get things done.”
Concerns about Biden’s age have sparked a challenge in the Democratic primary by Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who has advocated for a new generation of Democratic leadership in the White House.
Some Republican candidates have openly questioned whether Biden will finish a second term if re-elected, warning voters that a vote for Biden is a vote for Vice President Kamala Harris as president.
Biden has routinely addressed questions about his age since announcing his re-election bid.
“I respect that they’re taking a hard look at it,” Biden said in April, referring to voters who worry about his age. “I would take a close look at it too. I took a good look at it before I decided to run and I feel good.”
Contact Joey Garrison at X @joeygarrison.