Trump, who has skirted attacks on Biden’s age, leans in as controversy swirls

Almost buried in Donald Trump‘s typically combative attack on Joe Biden Saturday was a decidedly atypical line drawing attention to the “president’s competency and age – a top concern for Voters.”

Given Trump is 77, only a few years younger than Biden at 81, the former president has usually skirted the age issue.

Whether to avoid drawing attention to his own age or to avoid offending his base, which skews older, Trump has rarely directly attacked Biden on the issue, choosing instead to focus on the president’s public gaffes ahead of the likely general election contest between them.

But in a Saturday Truth Social post about special counsel Robert Hur’s report on the president’s handling of classified documents — which found that criminal charges were not warranted, unlike in Trump’s own classified documents case — the former president bit on the swirling controversy over the current president’s advanced years.

Trump further referred in his post to Biden’s “hazy memory” and reprised his “Sleepy Joe” moniker from the 2020 campaign.

Recent polling has shown that Biden’s age is a turn-off for voters.

A January NBC poll found that three-quarters of voters said the president’s age was of major or moderate concern. Those voters included 81 percent of independents and 54 percent of Democrats who said they had concerns about Biden’s fitness for a second term.

In comparison, slightly less than half of voters said they were worried about Trump’s mental and physical fitness to hold office. More voters — 61 percent — were concerned about the former president’s legal troubles.

Age has become an increasingly prominent issue in both the GOP and Democratic presidential primaries. Trump’s primary opponent, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, has taken swipes at both men over their age and Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips launched his challenge to Biden primarily over his concerns that Biden’s age rendered him unfit to run — and win — against the former president.

Biden and his allies have forcefully pushed back against ongoing questions of his age and fitness, including those leveled Friday in a New York Times editorial after the president held a contentious press conference this week defending his memory in the wake of Hur’s report.

During that press conference, Biden stated, “I’m well meaning, and I’m an elderly man. And I know what the hell I’m doing.”

When Democratic strategist David Axelrod warned Biden’s age could be a liability in the 2024 election, the president reportedly described him as a “prick.”

Trump has generally avoided directly addressing the age question, even claiming Biden’s mental unfitness stems from factors other than his age.

Trump’s critics, meanwhile, have seized on the former president’s campaign trail gaffes as evidence of his own unfitness for office.

However, perhaps with his own vulnerability on the issue in mind, Trump responded to Haley’s attacks by touting his cognitive skills, saying he felt “about 35 years old.”

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