Donald Trump’s claim that he is not suffering from age-related cognitive decline – despite frequent campaign trail gaffes, including seeming to think Barack Obama is still president – has not only attracted widespread mockery, but it has also produced claims that the US media ignores such slips while focusing relentlessly on Joe Biden’s age and fitness for office.
Trump “gets names wrong all the time”, said Andy Levy, co-host of The New Abnormal, a Daily Beast podcast.
Forbes recently listed seven instances in which Trump has appeared to confuse Obama and Biden recently, “amid other notable gaffes”.
Levy, whose remarks were published on Tuesday, continued: “He gets historical facts wrong all the time – and they’re not small things. What we tend to do is when Joe Biden says something, everyone pounces. But when Donald Trump does it, we shrug it off and say, ‘Oh, that’s just Trump.’ Or, ‘He’s kidding.’
“The media needs to start focusing on Trump’s cognitive skills with every bit of concentration that it does on Joe Biden’s cognitive skills, because they’re simply not” doing so.
Biden is 81, Trump 77. Polling shows significantly more Americans believe Biden is too old for a second term in the Oval Office than think the same of Trump.
Trump faces 91 criminal charges and assorted civil threats, creating a crowded courtroom schedule. Nonetheless, two months out from the Iowa caucuses he remains the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination to face Biden in 2024.
Polling has also shown Trump competing with his Democratic rival or leading in battleground states, though such support falls off when voters are asked what they will do if Trump is convicted.
Trump’s latest protestation on the issue of his age and mental fitness came Monday morning.
In a post to his Truth Social platform, he said: “Whenever I sarcastically insert the name Obama for Biden as an indication that others may actually be having a very big influence in running our country [his opponents and the media] go wild saying that ‘Trump doesn’t know the name of our president … Joe Biden. He must be cognitively impaired.’
“No, I know both names very well, never mix them up, and know that they are destroying our country.”
Ron DeSantis, the hard-right Florida governor challenging Trump for next year’s Republican nomination, has seized on his rival’s gaffes.
Earlier this month, DeSantis’s rapid response operation said: “Here is a running list of every one of Donald Trump’s fumbles, accidents, and confused moments from this year. (NOTE: this is why his handlers won’t let him debate).”
Trump has said he sees no need to debate, telling Fox News: “When you’re 40 points up … Why would I let these people take shots at me?”
In his Monday post, Trump also boasted that he “just took a cognitive test as part of my physical exam, and ACED it. Also ACED (a perfect score!) one taken while in the White House”.