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As the 2020 presidential race heats up, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been forced to confront questions about his age and mental acuity. At 77 years old, he would be the oldest U.S. president ever elected if he wins in November.
But instead of dodging the issue or getting defensive, Biden has been turning the tables on his critics and using his age to his advantage.
During a recent interview with ABC News, Biden declared himself a “transition candidate” who would pass the torch to a new generation of leaders. He said he knows he’s not the “youngest candidate in the race,” but argued that his age and experience give him an edge.
“I think it’s a legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old whether or not they’re fit and whether they’re ready,” Biden said. “But I just think it’s a mistake to judge people solely on their age. It’s what they’ve done, what they’re capable of, what their ideas are.”
Biden’s approach is a departure from the traditional playbook of presidential candidates, who often try to minimize or obfuscate their weaknesses. Instead, he’s embracing his age and using it as a selling point.
And it seems to be working. In recent polls, Biden has been leading President Donald Trump in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
But what does it really mean to be a “transition candidate?” And how might Biden’s age impact his ability to lead the country?
First, let’s define what we mean by a “transition candidate.” This term typically refers to a president who serves as a bridge between two eras or parties. They may have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and they’re often tasked with bringing about change while maintaining stability.
Examples of transition presidents include Barack Obama, who succeeded George W. Bush and oversaw a major shift in U.S. healthcare policy, and Ronald Reagan, who helped usher in a new era of conservatism after decades of Democratic rule.
Biden has already hinted at some of the changes he would like to make if he’s elected. He’s promised to address income inequality, racial injustice, and climate change, among other issues.
But he’s also pledged to restore a sense of civility and bipartisanship to politics, which many voters see as sorely lacking in the current administration.
Biden’s age and experience could give him an advantage in achieving these goals. As a longtime senator and vice president, he has built relationships on both sides of the aisle and has a deep understanding of how government works.
But his age could also be a liability. Some critics have raised concerns about Biden’s health and stamina, and they point to occasional gaffes and memory lapses as evidence that he may not be up to the task.
Biden, however, has dismissed these concerns and argued that he’s as sharp as ever.
“I am a very energetic guy,” he said during a speech in Iowa earlier this year. “You know, nobody doubts that I mean what I say and that I say what I mean, and that I’m going to do what I say I’m going to do.”
In fact, Biden’s age may even be an asset in these difficult times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the country and the economy flounders, many voters may be looking for a steady hand and a calming presence in the White House.
Biden’s experience and empathy could help him connect with those who are struggling and reassure the American people that things will eventually get better.
Ultimately, the question of Biden’s age and fitness for office will be up to the voters to decide. But by embracing his status as a “transition candidate” and using his age to his advantage, he may have found a winning strategy.
As he said during a CNN town hall in July, “I am confident in my physical and mental health. I am ready to step up and lead this country forward.”
Whether he’s ultimately successful remains to be seen, but one thing is clear – Joe Biden is not letting his age define him or hold him back.