Sunday, June 16, 2024

His age is Biden’s biggest negative, and Israel is hurting him more

US President Joe Biden likes counter sceptics of his re-election bid asking them to compare him not to the almighty but to the alternative. And that alternative appears at this time to be his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Biden and his camp relish the thought of Trump as their rival.

And why not. Here is a twice-impeached President mired in four legal cases for lying about hush money payments to an adult film actress; improperly handling classified documents; aiding and abetting the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection; and conspiring with associates to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election in the state of Georgia.

His business organisation, which he has used to flaunt his talents has been held guilty of manipulating its worth to seek loans and escape or minimise tax liability.

To top it all, Biden beat Trump in 2020.

What is there to not like about Trump as the rival in 2024? Polls.

Biden is trailing Trump by 1.7 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. But the president also trailing other Republican contenders for the nomination — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley .

In fact, Haley, who is an Indian-American, has the widest lead over Biden of all three, of 4 percentage points.

A Democratic strategist said: “Trump is the best bet for Biden, and certainly not Haley.”

That’s the picture now, when no one is really focused on the general election, which is a year away. But things will change once the country goes into election mode, when the Republican primaries get under on January 15 with the Iowa caucuses.

The Biden team will also be more focused on the elections and will try to fix the broken elements of the President’s campaign.

They will start selling Biden’s achievements, and the team believes they have an extremely positive story to tell — overseeing the recovery from Covid-19; dealing with inflation, which remains stubbornly high although it’s been under control lately; the passage of a massive infrastructure legislation is funding new and repair projects around the country; ending the Afghanistan war, which was the longest American war in history; foiling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

As the election day approaches the Biden campaign will find more stories to tell for his re-election bid.

The campaign will also present their version of the contrast between Biden and whoever his rival is — Trump, DeSantis or Haley — and present them as a binary choice. Biden is currently being judged for his administration’s achievements and failings, compared to himself.

Some of his failings may not appear such big failings when contrasted with those of his rivals. Trump’s record in office was not sufficient to get him re-elected in 2020 and not much would change on that account by election day next year.

Biden faces internal complications as well. The party’s base is not enthused by his re-election campaign and calls for him to make way for someone younger and more energetic to continue.

David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist key to former President Barack Obama’s elections, caused quite a stir in the party recently when he suggested the president should take a call, indicating, not subtly, he should not run.

At 81, Biden is already the oldest US President ever and he will be 83 when he is sworn in in 2025 January if he wins.

Although Trump, who could be the Republican nominee, is no spring chicken at 77 and will be 79 if he retakes the White House in 2025.

Although the age factor is playing a bigger role in Biden’s bid, he could come up with an answer to it, as did President Ronald Reagan in 1984 when seeking a second term.

“I will not make age an issue of this campaign,” he said during a presidential debate. “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

He was 73 at the time and Walter Mondale, the Democratic challenger, was 56. Reagan won the debate and went on to win a second term.

There is another worrying development for Biden. Muslim-Americans who have largely voted Democratic and backed him in the 2020 election have vowed to not vote for him this time in protest over his embrace of Israel in its conflict with Hamas.

Muslim votes are critical in some of the swing states such Michigan, Wisconsin and Virginia. They will not vote for Trump or any other Republican nominee either. They will stay at home.

And that could cost the president dearly unless he is able to make some course-correction between now and election day.



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