Yes, Trump has an age issue too: Republicans have made Joe Biden’s age and mental acuity a major part of their pitch in opposing his re-election in 2024. But Donald Trump appears to have an age issue of his own.
Donald Trump and Those Mistakes
When Donald Trump became president in 2017, he was the oldest president in history, overtaking Ronald Reagan. And when Joe Biden took over for Trump four years later, he was of course the new oldest president.
Biden is currently 80, while Trump is 77, as the two appear likely to face each other once again for president in 2024; should Trump become president again he will turn 80 during his term.
And while Republicans have made Biden’s age a major part of their pitch arguing for his defeat, there are growing whispers that Trump’s own advanced age is getting to be an issue as well.
According to an Axios story this week, Trump’s own “old-age” issues are becoming an issue as well. Trump’s campaign, according to the story, “has disclosed far less about his health than the White House has about the president.”
There were occasional rumors, during his presidency, that Trump’s mental faculties had begun to fray. The Guardian reported in 2021 that Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser, believed Trump had “early-stage” dementia, according to a memory by a veteran CBS News producer. The producer, Ira Rosen, said that Bannon had sent him a text message raising the possibility of Trump being removed from office via the 25th Amendment and that CBS should do a story on that.
“He didn’t want to talk about it on 60 Minutes at the time,” Rosen said in the book, per The Guardian. “You can’t force the guy. But he had laid out the record at the time.”
Now, this has begun to come up in the Republican presidential campaign, with Gov. Ron DeSantis, in particular, trying to make hay of Trump’s age and verbal flubs, including a “Trump accident tracker.” DeSantis’ online operation has also argued that Trump has noticeably less verbal alacrity now than he did when he first ran for president in the 2016 campaign.
“This is a different Donald Trump than 2015 and ’16 — lost the zip on his fastball,” DeSantis said in New Hampshire this week, per the New York Times. Nikki Haley, who began her presidential campaign by calling for politicians over a certain age to have to pass a cognitive test, has renewed that call of late.
Trump has also recently made verbal flubs, including confusing the leaders of Hungary and Turkey, and stating that he was in Sioux Falls (which is in South Dakota) rather than Sioux City (in Iowa.)
The New York Times, last week, wrote about how Trump’s own advanced age and flubs “could weaken his attacks on Biden’s age.”
Trump, while continuing to repeatedly mock Biden as old and pointing out his various verbal gaffes, has been making similar mistakes himself.
“Trump has had a string of unforced gaffes, garble, and general disjointedness that go beyond his usual discursive nature, and that his Republican rivals are pointing to as signs of his declining performance,” the Times story said.
This is of a piece with Trump repeatedly praising Hezbollah, and also telling his supporters not to vote. At one point, he seemed to misremember that his 2016 opponent was Barack Obama, and not Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s campaign, predictably, has pooh-poohed these concerns.
“None of these false narratives has changed the dynamics of the race at all — President Trump still dominates, because people know he’s the strongest candidate,” spokesman Steven Cheung said. “The contrast is that Biden is falling onstage, mumbling his way through a speech, being confused on where to walk, and tripping on the steps of Air Force One. There’s no correcting that, and that will be seared into voter’s minds.”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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