Biden Was Once on Other Side of He's-Too-Old Debate

Biden, 29 at the time, made an issue of his 63-year-old opponent's age in Delaware
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2023 3:15 PM CDT
Joe Biden Once Said Older Opponent Had Lost 'Twinkle'
President Joe Biden speaks about his student debt relief plan at Central New Mexico Community College.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden, age 80, made it official: He's running for a second term. If the 46th president wins reelection, he would be 86 by the end of that term, and as CNBC notes, he's already facing questions regarding his fitness for duty, most of them centered on Biden's age. CNN points out what anyone with knowledge of Biden's political history might know—however the White House views questions about the president's fitness for office now, Joe Biden used age against an opponent over 50 years ago, when he was a 29-year-old running against 63-year-old Sen. Cale Boggs.

Biden was quoted in a June 1972 article in the News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, in which the then-councilman said he visited Boggs's home while campaigning in the neighborhood. He explained his reasoning was, "Why not meet the Republican I'm going to defeat?" He added, "Cale doesn’t want to run, he’s lost that old twinkle in his eye he used to have." Biden also ran ads emphasizing his youth and how he was tuned into the times, constantly associating Boggs with what was then beginning to feel like the distant past. One such ad said, "To Cale Boggs an unfair tax was the 1948 poll tax. To Joe Biden an unfair tax is the 1972 income tax."

Pundits writing about Biden's race against Boggs at the time expressed some skepticism of the future president's approach. Wilmington Morning News columnist Bill Frank published a piece in which he wrote that even though Biden called himself a "young liberal" at the time, he "sure sounded like a middle-of-the-roader," meaning that in the writer's opinion, Biden was more centrist than he wanted to seem. It was titled, "Is Joe Biden just a young Cale Boggs?" Either way, Biden won the race and entered the Senate. (More President Biden stories.)

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