Biden’s European, Mideast trips separated so he could rest – report

The issue of the president’s age and stamina is constantly raised by his political opponents but dismissed by the administration.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The White House separated President Joe Biden’s trips to Europe and the Middle East by a few weeks due to concerns of overtaxing America’s oldest-ever leader, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The president was originally scheduled to fly straight to Israel and Saudi Arabia after his week-long trip to Germany and Spain in late June, but the second half of the journey was delayed until this Wednesday. The administration cited “scheduling reasons.”

According to the report, aides feared that it would be “crazy” to pack the president’s schedule to that extent. At the G-7 Summit in the Alps and the NATO Summit in Madrid, Biden held meeting after meeting dealing with the most serious issues of the day, including containment of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the recent flexing of Chinese muscles, rising inflation and a possible upcoming global recession.

The White House also wanted to gain a public foreign policy “win” on the trip to help shore up the president’s dismal popularity rating. The Americans have billed the visit as a way to further peace in the region by taking another step towards normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Waiting two weeks allowed further behind-the-scenes negotiating with the two U.S. allies.

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Yet at 79, with two more years to go, Biden is now a year older than ex-president Ronald Reagan was after his two terms had ended.

Biden has also declared his intention to run again in 2024. But he walks much more slowly than he used to; he has fallen more than once; his speech has been slurred at times, and he has made several mistakes even while reading off a teleprompter.

Calling his vice president “President Harris” on a few occasions and saying “Iranian” instead of “Ukrainian” are also missteps that his political enemies have pounced on, although, before his last birthday, his official doctor said that he was “a healthy, vigorous 78-year-old male who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.”

Many current and past officials and aides have said that Biden pays close attention at all his meetings, asks penetrating questions even late at night, and rewrites speeches to emphasize points that are important to him. They also dismiss his gaffes, pointing out that he has a well-known history of mis-speaking, even as a much younger man.

Still, the White House is shielding Biden from the media. He has held far fewer press conferences and personal interviews than his last five predecessors at this stage of the presidency,

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The administration knows that Biden’s age is an issue that might hurt the Democratic party. In June, two surveys showed that 64% of American voters believed he was showing that he was too old to be their commander-in chief.