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Donald Trump and Joe Biden: Both Too Old to Be President?

Joe Biden
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with supporters at a phone bank at his presidential campaign office in Des Moines, Iowa.

The field for the 2024 presidential election is far from set. Only one major candidate has declared: former President Donald Trump. Even incumbent President Joe Biden has not yet declared his intentions for the upcoming election. But the expectation is that Biden will declare his candidacy, in which case he will earn the DNC nomination uncontested. If Trump wins the GOP nomination, it will set up a rematch of the 2020 election.

But perhaps more significantly, a Joe Biden versus Trump election would represent the first time in American history that two candidates older than 78 had faced off for the presidency, prompting the question: How old is too old to be president of the United States?

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Joe Biden is Already the Oldest

Biden is 80 years old right now, making him the oldest person ever to serve as the U.S. commander in chief. The 2024 election won’t even happen until Biden turns 82. And if Biden wins, he’ll be sworn in for a term that won’t end until he turns 86 years old.

Think about that: an 86-year-old running the United States of America. It doesn’t quite sound right.

U.S. life expectancy is only 77 years, so Joe Biden would need to exceed it by nearly a decade just to live through a second term. Granted, the president enjoys perhaps the most personalized, consistent, and sophisticated healthcare of anyone in human history. But statistically, his survival through a second term is questionable. 

Concerns about Biden, or any octogenarian’s, age are not just about surviving. There is also the question of cognitive function. Most people seem to slow down as they get into their eighties and nineties – grasping for words, repeating themselves, failing to make sense. Biden has already visibly slowed a bit. Just reference older clips of Biden, say from any pre-presidency point in his 50 years of highly visible public service, against clips of Biden now.

Modern Joe Biden is less articulate, less sharp. I have not personally conducted a neurological examination of the president, and I lack any of the requisite training to do so, but I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that a guy in his eighties isn’t as sharp as he was in his fifties. 

Donald Trump Is No Spring Chicken

Trump doesn’t get as much attention for his age as Biden – probably because Biden is a touch older and because Trump has retained a more youthfully obnoxious persona.

But Trump is not exactly a young guy.

He is 76 today, turns 77 in June, and would be 78 by the time the 2024 election rolls around. If Trump were elected in 2024, he would serve his second term between the ages of 78 and 82. 

Trump’s cognitive function doesn’t seem quite as sharp as it used to, either. Trump, too, has decades worth of clips to reference. He was giving interviews in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, and he was clearly more articulate than he is now.

Today, Trump is a blubbering goon. But back in the day, despite the occasional deplorability of his business practices and viewpoints, he seems well put together, like someone with the lights on upstairs. That doesn’t really seem like the case anymore. Trump’s sentences are almost there, but not quite. You understand what he means most of the time, but you have to do some leg work to get there. Trump, too, is trending in the wrong direction cognitively. 

And shouldn’t the president of the United States be super sharp? 

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.