Is Joe Biden “Too Old” For Another Crack at the Presidency? Readers Weigh In

Joe Biden

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Even those who say they love Uncle Joe shared some revealing opinions.

Joe Biden is officially back on the campaign trail as a formal candidate for 2024. He isn’t the only one (here’s a look at the Democrats running against him), but as the incumbent, he’s all but assured his party’s nomination.

His candidacy is an undeniably historic moment. At 80, he’s already our oldest president ever, and if he completed a second term, he’d leave the White House at 86. And despite his comfortable position with Democratic leadership, his octogenarian status is on the minds of many.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board just called his re-election bid “a risky act that borders on selfish.” The New York Times pointed out Biden’s first-term accomplishments (like the 12.6 million jobs added to the economy since he took office) and the fact that his latest health report described him as “vigorous,” but also noted that even Democratic strategists have “expressed deep worries” about his ability to undergo four more years in this seriously stressful job.

It’s worth mentioning that the current GOP frontrunner, 76-year-old Donald Trump, would be our second-oldest president if he won, so this is a concern that spans voters on either side of the aisle. But since Biden just threw his hat back into the ring, let’s focus on him for a moment.

Anxieties about having a long-in-the-tooth leader are often discounted as ageism, and in some cases, they may be. But considering that recent polling shows 44 percent of Democrats say he shouldn’t run again, it’s a conversation that can’t be ignored.

To learn more about how voters feel, we checked in with a politically astute group: the readers of our daily newsletter, Wake-Up Call. The majority of respondents told us they have concerns about Biden’s age, either due to his fitness for office or because of how he’ll be perceived by other voters. Here’s a look at what they had to say:

Many readers cited their own age in explaining their opinions about Biden.

“As a 65-year-old pharmacist who retired last year, I know that quick decision-making skills diminish as we age.” – Cyndi S.

“Gen-Z does not want an older president. I’m a millennial, and we don’t want this either!” – Natalie O.

“I’m 88 and still working full time, but I completely recognize my limitations. We should encourage our youth to vote by showing them we are ready to share the stage.” – Rita M.

Others said that while age isn’t a concern on its own, Biden’s specific circumstances would make his re-election risky.

“One can already see the physical decline in his gait. Cognitively, there is no way he will be as sharp next year as this year, to say nothing of five years from now.” – Jacqueline S. 

“It really isn’t his age. The poor approval ratings are what the Dems should be concerned about.” – Tracy A.

“I like Biden, but I don’t want Kamala Harris running the country if he is ill.” – Helene I. 

Another common complaint was less about Biden personally and more about the Democratic Party’s inability to nurture younger options who could rise up to follow in his footsteps.

“I’m disappointed. I wish someone younger, articulate, and with fresh ideas would step up.” – Natalie K. 

“I love Biden, but he needs to put his support on a younger person like Pete Buttigieg.” – Debbie B. 

“If Biden wins the nomination, I will support him 100 percent. I think he’s been doing a great job. That said, Democrats really, really need to step up their game when it comes to putting forth new candidates. And they’d better act quickly. Running campaigns is not our strong suit!” – Liz G.

“Age aside, both parties need new blood running for the next election. Actually, the entire government needs new blood. I would love to see a moderate take on both Biden and Trump.” – Heather V.

“Under any other circumstances, I would be against an octogenarian running for president, but these are extraordinary times. Biden’s depth of knowledge is unmatched. He’s a man of principle and people trust him.” – Barbara M.

“Like any good sports team, it’s the players on the court that win games. Biden is the coach, and he’s put together a solid team.” – Patty M.

“President Biden’s health and mental acuity are on par with someone much younger. It really depends on the person, and he has taken advantage of sound medical advice and health practices all his life. I truly believe he will be going strong well into his 90s.” – Will W. 

“It’s much more important to look at Biden’s accomplishments. He has passed a lot more legislation than any president in recent history. His long history in government makes him extremely capable on the domestic and the international fronts. He knows everyone! He’s good at working across the aisle.” – Heather S.

“Other cultures heed the elderly. We need to do the same. I’m more cautious about the youth who don’t appreciate the perspective that age provides. The other day I had to explain to a new law graduate who Anita Hill is.” – Anne C.

Ultimately, the question of how old is “too old” will be decided by voters in 2024 — but that’s exactly what some Democrats are anxious about.

“I love Joe Biden. Can he continue to be a good president at his age? Yes. Do enough people believe that? I’m not sure.” – Dana A.

“Biden has an ‘everyman’ quality about him. I admired his dedication to his children and the fact that he commuted every day to and from Washington so he would be home with his boys in the evening. I guess the only reason I would have to be concerned about his age is that so many others are concerned.” – Roger M.

“President Biden is a lifelong politician who seems to be used to the demands of the job. His age is not a concern for me. However, given his age, I will look to his running mate to make sure she is up to the job, should the president fall ill or die. If the public thinks he’s ‘too old’ and they don’t like his running mate, it could cause voters to vote for the Republican candidate instead.” – Cindy G.