Trump Turns 78, With Age Increasingly A Poll Issue

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Donald Trump, whose attempt at a White House return is based in large part on attacking President Joe Biden as old and feeble, turned 78 on Friday – with growing questions over his own mental and physical health.
Whoever wins the November election will set a new age record.
At 81, Biden is already the oldest man to hold the office and would continue to be so, while if Trump wins, he would become the oldest ever at an inauguration.
Only three years separate the two men.
However, Trump, aided by the right-wing media ecosystem, has carefully built an image of vigour in contrast to an opponent he routinely claims is“sleepy” or even senile.
Whether staging photo-ops with martial arts personalities or performing his trademark short dance at the end of rallies, Trump spares little effort to come across as an energetic showman.
Heavy use of cosmetics and hairspray typically give him a look – at a distance – of a tanned and younger man.
Trump will aim to maintain that image at a party in West Palm Beach, in his home state of Florida, later in the day, when he speaks before a throng of paying guests.
Club 47 USA, a Trump supporters' group, was hosting the event near the ex-president's Mar-a-Lago residence and golf resort.
Invitations, featuring a picture of Trump grinning and hugging a US flag, referred to him as“the best president ever”.
The Republican is used to the flattery, with almost the entire party now lined up behind him.
On Thursday, he received a rousing happy birthday message in Washington from Republican members of Congress.
They included senior figures who only three years ago had denounced him after cowering in fear as a mob of Trump supporters tried to storm the Capitol to overturn Biden's 2020 election win.
There were no warm wishes from the Biden camp.
The president's re-election campaign put out an unflattering close-up photograph of a sweaty, dishevelled Trump, titled:“Ah, another year around the sun for Donald Trump.”
Underneath, a list of 78 lifetime“accomplishments” was provided, ranging from Trump's multiple bankruptcies to instances of far-right rhetoric, alleged physical misconduct, cheating at golf, his encouraging of the Capitol assault, and recent felony conviction for business fraud in New York.
“Happy birthday, Donald. You're a crook, a failure, a fraud, and a threat to our democracy, economy, rights, and future,” Biden campaign spokesman James Singer said.“Our early gift for your 79th: Making sure you are never president again.”
In response, a Trump spokeswoman described Biden as a“weak and incompetent candidate” who has been“shuffling around like a brain-dead zombie at the G7 summit” in Italy this week.
Polls show that a big majority of Americans think Biden is too old, while a small majority think the same of Trump.
However, Trump now faces months of intense media exposure, increasing the risk of the same kinds of gaffes that have plagued Biden.
Just on Thursday, a mini firestorm blew up when Trump was quoted as saying that Milwaukee – where the Republicans will hold their convention to nominate Trump in July – is a“horrible” place.
Attention is also growing on his often bizarre, meandering comments during speeches, including a recent tirade against electric vehicles that involved a sinking boat, a shark, and being electrocuted.
On the campaign trail, Trump has not explicitly made an issue of Biden's age, but has sought to capitalise on his opponent's every verbal mistake, as well as Biden's slowing gait, to cast the president as unfit for the Oval Office.
“It's not about age, it's about mental competence,” said Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt, arguing that voters can see the contrast between Biden and Trump, whom she described as“sharp as a tack with elite stamina”.
Biden has responded to questions about his age by telling voters to focus on his accomplishments in office as evidence of his acuity and strength.
He has also described Trump as a threat to democracy following his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and criticised his sometimes rambling speeches, as well as his use of inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants.
Trump appears conscious that attacks on Biden risk backfiring, given their similar ages.
“He's not too old at all,” Trump said in an interview last September.“Age is interesting because some people are very sharp, and some people do lose it.”
Biden said on Friday that he agreed there are nuances to the age question.
“Happy 78th birthday, Donald. Take it from one old guy to another: Age is just a number,” he posted on X.“This election, however, is a choice.”
Presidential historian Timothy Naftali said Trump projects energy in his public appearances, making him appear to be more vital physically than Biden, but that does not mean Trump is sharper mentally.
“It's not clear listening to the two men who is in better command of his faculties,” Naftali said.
Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University and well-known presidential prognosticator, said Trump had made gaffes and spread false information to an extent that should be raising more questions about his mental fitness.
“People somehow focus on the mistakes Biden has made while totally ignoring the way in which Trump seems to be entirely unhinged from reality,” he said.


Gulf Times

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