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Biden v. Trump: The battle over who’s too old, too forgetful or too confused

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Adam Wren

It’s open season on candidates’ ages as the general election nears.

In this political season, though, there’s no escaping it. And even down-ballot candidates are getting in on the action. During a California Senate debate on Monday, Democratic Rep. Katie Porter said “ age limits are a conversation for all elected officials that we ought to be having.” Across the country, in the race to replace former Rep. George Santos in New York, Democrat Tom Suozzi told FOX 5 New York of Biden, “ The bottom line is, he’s old.

“I don’t think the media has yet reconciled its own coverage now with its past coverage,” said Biden’s outgoing climate envoy John Kerry, who turned 80 in December, and who has served alongside Biden in the Senate and in senior roles across two administrations. “Because if you go back to when Joe Biden was chosen as VP in 2008, I remember the press was obsessed with this idea of gaffes. They hung on every word. There was a whole lot of writing about this back when Biden was in his early 60s. And by the way, none of it stopped him from being a very successful vice president. Now suddenly that he’s 80, everyone’s writing furiously as if this must automatically be about age when their own body of writing proves otherwise. So people might want to dig a little deeper and challenge their own narratives.”

Inside the Biden administration, the president’s allies are certainly trying to. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s youngest Cabinet member at 42, subtly raised his former challenger’s age as he talked about the need for a new generational leadership during the 2020 Democratic primary. But in an interview on Tuesday, he said that in recent interactions, he’s found his boss still is sharp.

Once, while briefing him on railroad investments, Buttigieg brought along an expert from the Federal Rail Administration, who could not answer all of Biden’s questions. “He was asking such detailed questions that we actually had to dial in another expert from Amtrak to get to some of the things he was asking about,” Buttigieg said.