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Age, mental capacity dominates presidential campaign trail after report questions Biden's memory

Published 02/10/2024, 05:02 PM
Updated 02/10/2024, 05:26 PM
© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden departs the White House in Washington, U.S., February 9, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

By Tim Reid

(Reuters) - The mental ability and age of the United States' presidential candidates took center stage on the campaign trail on Saturday, following a report that suggested President Joe Biden was suffering memory lapses.

Former President Donald Trump accused both Biden, the Democrat he will likely face in November's general election, and Nikki Haley, Trump's last remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, of lacking the mental capacity to be president.

Haley - like Trump, campaigning in South Carolina where the two will meet in a primary election on Feb. 24 - went after both men, calling Trump mentally deficient and saying Biden is too old to be president.

Meanwhile, the Biden White House, responding to the report on Thursday from a Department of Justice special counsel that said Biden had a poor memory, continued its full-scale attack on Trump's age and mental acuity after Trump recently mixed up names and made other verbal gaffes.

"Every single time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he's confused, deranged, lying, or worse," T.J. Ducklo, a Biden spokesman, said in a statement released by Biden's reelection campaign.

The issue of mental competency has become a major topic in this year's presidential campaign. Biden, 81, and Trump, 77, are the two oldest men respectively to have been elected president. In recent days, Biden has mixed up the names of some world leaders.

The issue is a vexing one for Biden's reelection campaign. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in September, 77% of respondents said they agreed with a statement that Biden was too old to work in government, while 56% said the same of Trump.

Haley, 52, has called for mental competency tests for presidential candidates over 75 years old.

The issue was thrust front and center again after Special Counsel Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland during Trump's administration, said in his report that he chose not to bring criminal charges against Biden following a 15-month investigation into his handling of classified documents because the president cooperated.

Hur said the Democratic incumbent would be difficult to convict and described him as a "well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory" who was not able to recall to investigators when his son, Beau Biden, died.

Biden angrily denied Hur's allegations about his memory, saying in a White House appearance on Thursday night, "my memory's fine."

Trump, at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, said Hur's report showed Biden "is not fit to serve as our commander in chief."

Trump - who faces four state and federal criminal trials, including one for mishandling classified documents - is close to clinching the Republican nomination, and the prospect of a likely general election rematch with Biden in November.

Haley, who has no clear path to the nomination after Trump's consecutive wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, is refusing to quit the race, making a potential last stand in her home state of South Carolina, where she trails badly in opinion polls behind Trump.

Trump on Saturday called his former U.N. ambassador "birdbrain" and "brain-dead," suggesting she did not have the mental capacity to enter the White House.

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden leaves Jos A. Bank store in Greenville, Delaware, U.S., February 10, 2024. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Haley, beginning a two-week bus tour of South Carolina, called Biden "diminished." She also cited a recent Trump speech where he confused her with former Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"It's bigger than just Joe Biden. Whether it's Donald Trump getting me confused with Nancy Pelosi ... it's time for a new generational leader," Haley told reporters.

Latest comments

Biden, Trump, McConnell, Schumer….all senile leaders. A real tragedy for a young country. Reagan became senile months after leaving office, Biden will follow same path, Trump also. It says something. Cant we do better?? Younger dems and reps are waiting to be called for office. Time to let them in.
3.7% unemployment rate, 3.3% GDP growth, more than 100% increase in S&P 500 index from 2800 to above 5000….stop wining.
on check the graphs on S&P 500 says 2800 end of 2019.
when did Biden take office Kenny girl?
January 6th?
Old Joe is living proof that artificial intelligence is still decades away.
Trump is now older than when Biden was running for president back in 2020, but I am sure you never said anyting about how old Biden was back in 2020, eh?
Not bad for an 81 year old senile man who does not know where he is according to russian trolls. Anybody that have not made money during Biden tenure with economy data that says US unemployment rate at 3.7%, US GDP growth 3.3% and an S&P 500 above 5000  are either too stupid or needs to ask for refund of their education fees.
when Trump was kicked out of office in late 2019 the S&P 500 was at 2800 now 4 years later it has passed 5000…your math stinks.
GDP is inflation adjusted and inflation adjusted S&P is up 7.7% since Biden took office. Another magaloon who can't get his facts straight.
ken you should take up a new hobby. you should not embarrass yourself like this 🤣
Wonder how you would be when you are 81 years old. Off course he is not the same as a 50 year old or a 60 year old. The point is his policies and do we have economic prosperity and the answer is yes.
does everyone have money in the stock market? now add inflation to your mix. Things were much better under Trump but good try
Much better under Trumpo? He was one of only two presidents in 240 years of US history to leave office with fewer jobs than when he started: - 2.9M. Another magabilly with an opinion devoid of facts.
 "Things were much better under Trump but good try"  - ah yes, the good old day when we have 14% unemployement and -33 GDP growth, and of course who doesn't miss a good trade war or race riot?
Now some of Biden memory news shows up during weekend when most investing markets are closed.
Biden is either a dementia patient or a criminal who stole top secret documents. Take your pick, liberals.
Trumo didn’t steal any documents. He has records that HE declassified. You DO know the President has that power, right? Old Joe did NOT have that power when he took the documents that ended up in his garage along side his vette.
 "Trumo didn’t steal any documents. He has records that HE declassified."  - declassifiying in his head after he left office doesn't really declassify those documents, but do go on....
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