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Here’s How Biden Should Talk About His Age
Counter Nikki Haley’s “Biden will die!” talk with this one weird trick.
1. Bring Out Your Dead
Last week Nikki Haley went and said it out loud:
He announced that he’s running again in 2024, and I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely.
Good for her. I mean that. It’s a legitimate concern and it’s better for everyone if we talk about it openly.
But also, there’s an easy response.
Let’s pretend we’re in the first debate and Biden is asked precisely that question. Here’s how he should—and I assume would—respond:
God has blessed me getting me this far. Folks, none of us is promised tomorrow.
No matter who we are or how old we are. I know this. My wife Neilia and my daughter Naomi were called home 50 years ago, because God’s plan is not our plan. My son, Beau, was called home at age 46. Folks, none of us is promised tomorrow. All we can do is take the time we are given to work hard and try to make the world a little better for our kids. I’ll keep doing that until it’s my time.
But I understand the question. It’s okay to talk about it.
Look: The first job a president does is choose a vice president who can lead the nation should, God forbid, the worst happen. And that’s why I chose Kamala Harris.
I didn’t ask her to serve with me because I thought she would balance the ticket or help me win California. I asked her because I believed that this is a woman who could lead this country. And after four years, I believe that even more strongly. Because I’ve seen her, day in and day out. Folks, there is no one in America I would rather have as vice president than Kamala Harris.
But here’s the bottom line: I’m not going anywhere. The Good Lord has put me here to do a job and I’m going to finish it.
The key for Biden is to take his two liabilities—his age and Kamala Harris—and not dance around them, but run right at them.
Acknowledge the age problem. Don’t try to minimize it; humanize it.
And instead of trying to hide the ball with Kamala Harris, highlight her. Brag on her. Push her to the moon and get her over. The attitude of the Biden campaign should be: “Vice President Harris isn’t a weakness, she’s our secret weapon.”
Keep in mind, none of this is a value judgment. Biden’s age is a legitimate concern for voters. Kamala Harris is not (currently) popular with voters.
But as a matter of politics, this is the obvious way for the campaign to attack those weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
2. Trump > Nikki
For anyone who thinks Trump will be easier to beat than a “more electable” Republican, I’d submit the following:
Nikki Haley’s attempt to damage Biden with the age question by bringing up DEATH is an example of her clumsy thinking and poor political skills. As I just said: There’s an easy and obvious counter to it.
But look at the way Trump has started poking at Biden’s candidacy. Here’s Trump talking to Tucker Carlson a couple weeks ago:
CARLSON: Do you think Biden will stay in the race?
TRUMP: Look, I watch him just like you do, and I think it's almost inappropriate for me to say it. But I deal with other people. I don't see—I don't see how it's possible.
And it's not an age thing. You know, I like to say, I have friends that are 88, 89, 92. Bernie Marcus, Home Depot is 95. Smart as hell. He is sharp as he was. I mean, he's—you know, mentally Bernie Marcus, Home Depot, founder of Home Depot, one of the founders.
TRUMP: I mean, I had a meeting with him a few months ago, he was a hundred percent. I know people that built their fortunes from 80 to 90. They were always struggling and they made a fortune from 80 to 90, a couple of people in particular, it's, you know, amazing.
He's not too old. You know, his age, I think they do the age thing because I'm four or five years behind. They say this is a way of getting Trump, let's go on—but there is something wrong. . . .
Look, I don't think he can, but say what you want. . . .
They are surrounded by vicious, smart people, radical left people, but they are very smart and they're very vicious. It's not him. It's not him.
Put aside the usual Trumpian word salad—this is a cunning line of attack. Trump says that the problem isn’t age, but togetherness. He insists that Biden isn’t the same guy he used to be. And so he isn’t up to the job.
First off: It’s not falsifiable.
The only counter is for Biden to keep governing effectively—but even that probably isn’t enough because voters don’t see Biden governing. Any time Biden flubs something in public or stumbles over a word, it feeds Trump’s narrative.
And unlike Haley’s “HE COULD DIE” proposition, there is no obvious counter to Trump’s framing.
All Biden can do is keep governing, hope his health holds up, and try not to feed and water the seed of doubt Trump planted.
My point here is that people underestimate Trump at their peril. He has lots of weaknesses. But as a political animal he’s very good at this stuff. Certainly much better than a mope like Nikki Haley.
There’s a reason he pantsed the entire Republican field in 2016. Don’t ever lose sight of that.
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3. The Disappeared
This CNN investigation is something else. Let me just give you the subhead to get you started: “A Latino man and a Black man went missing three months apart in Florida. Both vanished after getting in a patrol car driven by the same White deputy sheriff.”
One morning 19 years ago, Marcia Williams woke up praying for her son. Terrance worked two jobs, and liked reading about Socrates, and had a scar on his right hand, near the thumb, from one time when he played with matches as a little boy. He was Marcia’s only child. She prayed and prayed, fighting against this inexplicable feeling that something terrible was about to happen.
A few hours later, Terrance crossed paths with a deputy sheriff. He got in the deputy’s patrol car. Then he disappeared.
The deputy said he’d given Terrance a ride to a Circle K convenience store. But there was no proof that Terrance arrived at the Circle K. And his mother never saw him again.
Eventually, Marcia learned something astonishing about this deputy sheriff.
Three months earlier, another man had also taken a ride in his patrol car.
Just like Terrance Williams, Felipe Santos had been driving illegally.
Just like Williams, he encountered Cpl. Steven Calkins of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
And just like Williams, he disappeared right after that.
The deputy said he’d dropped Santos off at a Circle K convenience store. But there was no proof that Santos arrived at the Circle K. And his family never saw him again.