New York, NY – President Joe Biden faced criticism this week after making two gaffes in which he wrongly identified deceased European leaders as having spoken to him about the events of the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021. During a campaign fundraiser in New York, Biden reportedly referenced former German chancellor Helmut Kohl as speaking to him about European concerns regarding the attempt to stop the certification of his 2020 election win, when he actually meant Angela Merkel. Kohl passed away in 2017. Earlier in Nevada, Biden apparently confused François Mitterrand, the former French president who died in 1996, for France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron, while recounting a similar anecdote about the events of January 6 and European fears over them.
At 81 years old, Biden is the oldest president to seek re-election in US history. Concerns about his mental and physical health have emerged as a persistent issue for many voters, including Democrats. A recent NBC News poll showed that three-quarters of voters, including half of Democrats, reported holding concerns about Biden’s mental and physical health. Biden’s age has become a focal point for Republicans and right-wing media to question his fitness for office, with every mistake being seized upon and highlighted.
It’s worth noting that Biden’s likely opponent in the 2024 race, former President Donald Trump, has also faced scrutiny for similar reasons. Both men, who are in their 70s, have been criticized for their age and fitness for office. Trump, at 77 years old, recently appeared to mix up his remaining serious opponent in the Republican nomination race, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, with ex-Democratic speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during a campaign rally in January, further fueling the age and mental fitness debate.
Haley, who has criticized both Trump and Biden as possibly being too old for office, labeled them as “grumpy old men” in a campaign ad. With the age and health of both candidates being a topic of concern, it remains to be seen how these factors will impact the 2024 presidential race.