New questions about President Joe Biden’s age and memory, sparked by a special counsel report last week, were decidedly unwelcome. for the advisors of the 81-year-old Democrat.
A fundraising appeal sent Saturday by first lady Dr. Jill Biden criticizing the special adviser and defending her husband was the second-highest-grossing fundraising email since the president announced the launch, said a source close to the figures.
The source declined to give the exact amount raised, but what made the email unique was that the first lady did not explicitly ask her supporters to donate money to the campaign in the body of its message. Instead, the message included a button with a link to donate after the first lady signed “Love, Jill.”
The success of the fundraising message, in which Jill Biden claimed that special counsel Robert Hur’s report contained “inaccurate and personal political attacks against Joe,” speaks to a silver lining amid questions about Biden’s age , which were festering well before the publication of Hur’s message. report last week.
In many ways, the lengthy document forced Biden’s team to address more forcefully an issue that had lingered uncomfortably for months, as voters expressed deep concerns about the president’s ability to serve a second term.
For months, White House aides have sought to avoid moments that could highlight Biden’s advanced years, such as using a smaller staircase to board Air Force One. The president has also conducted few sit-down interviews and held fewer news conferences, although he frequently takes questions from reporters in a less formal setting.
The president and his advisers bristled at questions about Biden’s cognitive abilities and advanced age, and claimed that interest in the issue was a media obsession. Yet the release of Hur’s report brought these issues to the center of the election, forcing the White House and campaign to address age-related issues more head-on.
Speaking to a group of county leaders on Monday, Biden himself appeared to make a veiled allusion to the report and the questioning of his recall abilities.
“I know I don’t look it, but I’ve been here for a while,” the president told the group in Washington.
“I remember that,” he added with a smirk, to loud applause.
Expressing outrage at the way Hur handled the issue in her report – and particularly expressing frustration with the special prosecutor claiming her husband didn’t remember the date of their son Beau’s death – Jill Biden sent a powerful message for Democrats.
“Believe me, like anyone who has lost a child, Beau and his death never leave him. I hope you can imagine what it felt like to read this attack – not just as Joe’s wife, but as Beau’s mother,” Dr. Biden wrote. “I don’t know what this special advisor was trying to accomplish. We should extend clemency to everyone, and I can’t imagine anyone would try to use our son’s death to score political points.”
Yet she also sought to link Biden’s age — a number that will only increase and that no official has the ability to change — to experience, an argument that Biden himself has not made. advanced only sporadically as the general elections get underway.
“Joe is 81, true, but he does more in an hour than most people do in a day,” she wrote. “Joe has wisdom, empathy and vision. He kept many of his promises as president precisely because he learned a lot during those 81 years. His age, experience and expertise are an incredible asset and he proves it every day.
The first lady was involved in crafting the response, which a source close to her said “came from the heart.”
Jill Biden felt that “Beau’s attack was out of line and attacks on his age were completely inaccurate,” the source said, noting that the first lady “wanted to make clear that the American people benefit from their 81 years “.
Over the weekend, the president’s social media account also posted a photo of Biden playing football with his sons Beau and Hunter. “1987 with my boys,” writes the president’s account.
Hur’s reference to Beau — who died of brain cancer in 2015 — angered the president the most, prompting him to tell Democratic lawmakers privately: “How could I ‘forget’ a date etched in his memory .
“As legal experts across the country say, this is going off the rails. It’s a lousy job,” Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer told CBS about the report.
During a fundraising call on Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris joined the Bidens in criticizing the contents of the report.
“As a former prosecutor, I can tell you firsthand that the comments made by the special prosecutor were unnecessary, inaccurate and inappropriate,” Harris wrote. “The manner in which the president’s behavior was portrayed in this report could not be more wrong. This was clearly politically motivated. »
Harris also detailed Biden’s response following Hamas’ speech on Israel on October 7, calling the hours leading up to the special adviser’s meeting with the president “an intense moment for the commander in chief of the United States.”
“When it comes to the role and responsibility of a prosecutor in a situation like this, we should expect a higher level of integrity than what we have seen. Still, I want you to know the Joe I know,” Harris wrote. “I’ve been with Joe in the Oval Office when the cameras were there and when they weren’t. I’ve seen it bring people together across the country and across the world. He is an incredible leader.
Mitch Landrieu, who recently left a White House post to become co-chairman of Biden’s campaign, said the report was an “ad hominem attack that called into question the president’s ability” and did not reflect his own experiences.
“This guy is tough. He is intelligent. He’s on his game,” he said on NBC.