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Amid Age Concerns, the White House Tries a New Strategy: Let Joe Be Joe

U.S.Amid Age Concerns, the White House Tries a New Strategy: Let Joe Be Joe

He is wearing aviators and baseball caps. He is making visits to ice cream parlors and barbecue joints, and asking to meet with influencers who can disseminate images of him on TikTok and Instagram. He is talking more often to reporters and fielding questions on the Middle East, Republicans and, of course, his age.

None of this is a coincidence. As President Biden faces what polls show is significant concern about his 81 years, and a tight election against his likely opponent, Donald J. Trump, the White House strategy is to have him step out of his protective bubble and directly take on voters’ worries.

The issue became supercharged last month when Mr. Biden angrily defended himself against a special counsel report that described him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” The president quickly became a favorite punchline of late-night talk show hosts, enraging his allies, who acknowledge that although Mr. Biden can’t turn back the clock, he can at least try to reset how voters view him.

“I have been saying for several months to the campaign, ‘Please, let him be Joe Biden,’ and so have many others,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a close ally of the president, said in an interview. “It is not only good for the campaign. It is good for him and it’s good for the country when Joe Biden gets a chance to get out from behind the podium and be less President Joe Biden and more Joe.”

To that end, Mr. Biden is expected to frame the age issue to his advantage in highlighting his legislative accomplishments in his State of the Union address on Thursday night. The point he will make, aides say, is that his achievements as president might have eluded less experienced politicians.


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