WASHINGTON: President-elect Joe Biden turned 78 today. In exactly two months, he’ll take the reins of a politically fractured nation facing the worst public health crisis in a century, high unemployment and reckoning on racial injustice.
As Biden wrestles with those issues, Biden will be attempting to accomplish another feat: Demonstrate to Americans that age is but a number and he’s up to the job.
If Biden were to run and be re-elected in 2024, he would be 86 at the end of the second term in 2029.
Biden will be sworn in as the oldest president in the nation’s history, displacing Ronald Reagan, who left the White House in 1989 when he was 77 years and 349 days old.
The age and health of both Biden and President Donald Trump are less than four years Biden’s junior — loomed throughout a race that was decided by a younger and more diverse electorate and at a moment when the nation is facing no shortage of issues of consequence.
Out of the gate, Biden will be keen to demonstrate he’s got the vigor to serve. “It’s crucial that he and his staff put himself in the position early in his presidency where he can express what he wants with a crispness that’s not always been his strength,” said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University who has advised legislators from both parties. “He has got to build up credibility with the American people that he’s physically and mentally up to the job.”