As US presidential candidates age, to what extent do their running mates matter to voters?
The report of the special counsel investigating US President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents spared the world leader from criminal charges on Thursday.
But the report still dealt a devastating political blow to the incumbent just nine months before the next vote: It made multiple blunt observations about Biden’s age and mental capacity.
In recounting five different interviews with the president, special counsel Robert Hoare described Biden, then 80, as “a well-meaning old man with a poor memory” — so much so that members of the public would not condemn him. From him for committing a felony with his knowledge.
“It will be difficult to convince a jury that he, a former president in his 80s, should be convicted of a serious crime requiring a premeditated state of mind,” Hoare wrote in his lengthy report.
The comments have sparked another political firestorm over age and mental fitness in the US presidential campaign, which will likely be led, for the first time in history, by two men who will be in their 80s by the time their terms expire.
Political scientists say the old slate may make voters pay more attention to the vice presidential candidates than usual, but they suspect the public will cast ballots based on who they might prefer as a batsman if their first choice for president doesn’t make it. Do not do this task.
“It’s not really realistic to expect the American voter to say, ‘I’m really concerned about Biden’s mental acuity, but that’s OK.’ University of Toronto at Scarborough: “There.”
“I’m very skeptical that, even with more attention (to age), the vice president will figure as highly in the minds of many voters.”
Biden has been dogged by questions about his mental and physical fitness over the past several years, concerns fueled in part by verbal missteps and public missteps. Nikki Haley, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, previously said that a vote for Biden would be a vote for “President Kamala Harris.”
I’ve been attacked for being honest and saying the quiet part out loud — the part that DC insiders only do in private.
I admire our president. I voted for him and campaigned for him. He visited my home and was generous to my family and our country.
But shame on you all for pretending… pic.twitter.com /OdaKvW7vbc
Former President Donald Trump, who has faced a dizzying array of criminal charges and questions about his mental fitness, continues to dominate the race to become the GOP nominee against Haley, his only remaining major rival. In a recent speech, Trump (77 years old) mixed up his primary rival, Nikki Haley, with Democrat and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Polls show that Americans are concerned about the mental and physical health of both men, but new reconnaissance They told NBC News they were particularly concerned about Biden: Three-quarters of respondents, including half of Democrats, expressed concern about his overall fitness.
If the President is unable to perform his duties as President, it will be the constitutional duty of his Vice President to assume that role. In a race where both candidates are the same age, it would be reasonable to think the vice president might have a greater likelihood of being recalled, Levin said.
But the majority of American voters do not typically decide their votes based on the vice presidential nominee, even in a race in which they may be the biggest.
“We have to remember that most Americans, especially at this moment, are voting for the candidate of the party they normally or habitually vote for,” Levin said.
“It’s not like people are like, ‘Oh, well, who’s the president? Oh, you don’t like him. So who’s the vice president?’
The question is whether the age of presidential candidates is a big enough issue to prompt voters to pay more attention to their second-in-command, said Paul Quirk, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia.
“Does it matter when a vice presidential candidate is more likely than usual to become president? This is a new circumstance,” Quirk said.
Vice presidents walk a fine line
In recent election campaigns, vice presidents are typically used to mobilize a party’s voter base and boost support for the presidential candidate. Both Harris and the Republican vice presidential nominee will have to walk a fine line of standing behind their respective potential commander-in-chief while demonstrating their ability to serve.
“This will be the delicate balance they will need to demonstrate throughout the rest of this year,” political science professor Beth Fisher said, referring to the Biden-Harris strategy.
Quirk noted that this is a message that aspiring candidates already know how to deliver.
“They will categorically express their confidence that the presidential candidate will complete his term while declaring that they are prepared if he does not do so one way or another,” he said.
“But that’s what they always do.”
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