The Daily Telegraph

Biden lashes out after ‘too old to run’ jibes

President reportedly calls former adviser to Obama a ‘p---k’ for claiming party needs a younger candidate

- By Tony Diver US Editor in Washington DC

‘What Mr Biden needs to decide is whether [running for office again] is in his best interests or the country’s’

‘It’s incredibly foolhardy to think you can bluff your way through for a year’

JOE BIDEN reportedly called one of Barack Obama’s closest advisers a “p- - -k” for suggesting that the US president is too old to run for re-election.

Mr Biden, 80, is facing opposition from Democrats behind closed doors over his low polling numbers and the widespread perception that he is too old to govern for another four years.

A new super-poll of 15,000 Americans, statistica­lly adjusted to predict the result of next year’s election, found that Mr Biden would lose in a head-to-head race with Donald Trump.

The “MRP” poll, by Stack Data Strategy, found that Mr Biden would win the popular vote by 49 per cent to 48 per cent, but lose to Mr Trump in the electoral college by failing to hold the key swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvan­ia and Wisconsin.

Mr Biden’s age is one of his key weaknesses, polling shows, with more than three-quarters of US voters believing he should withdraw from the race to make way for a younger Democrat.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief election strategist when he was president, caused ructions in the White House on Nov 5, when he suggested Mr Biden should reconsider his re-election campaign.

“Only Joe Biden can make this decision,” he said. “If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s?”

In response, Mr Biden called Mr Axelrod a “p- - -k”, according to a report published on the Politico website this week.

Mr Biden’s campaign team have repeatedly played down the seriousnes­s of his position in the polls and stressed the president’s love of late-night policymaki­ng sessions and his mental agility.

However, his team also appear to have reduced the number of media appearance­s he makes after a series of embarrassi­ng gaffes, including his reference to the “nine wonders of the world” and his confusion of the so-called “black and tans” – British auxiliary police during the Anglo-irish war – and the All Blacks, the New Zealand rugby team.

Aides had also decided that the president should use a shorter, retractabl­e staircase to board Air Force One, reducing the risk that he would slip in front of the cameras. Mr Biden often wears shoes with trainer soles, rather than traditiona­l dress shoes.

Replacing Mr Biden with another Democratic candidate less than a year before the election would prove difficult for the party, which does not have an obvious successor with national name recognitio­n.

Dean Phillips, a congressma­n from Minnesota, has publicly challenged Mr Biden for the nomination, but has not attracted any meaningful support among Democrat voters.

Other suggested candidates include Kamala Harris, the vice-president; Gavin Newsom, the California governor; and Andy Beshear, the 45-year-old Kentucky governor who won re-election in the state last week.

Democrats are said to be nervous that Mr Biden does not have the capacity to govern from the White House while running a presidenti­al campaign, giving media interviews and working on a diplomatic solution to the conflict in the Middle East.

Some have suggested he should make greater use of “surrogates” – supporters who will argue for him in the media – and appoint Bill and Hillary Clinton as envoys to the Middle East.

Nate Silver, the US polling analyst, said: “If Biden’s mental/physical capacity is a real issue, enough to significan­tly curtail his campaignin­g activity, it’s incredibly foolhardy to think you can bluff your way through that for a year.

“He might win, because Trump is also unpopular, but a different Democrat would be a better bet.”

Although the super-poll published on Sunday predicted that Mr Trump would beat Mr Biden in a presidenti­al race, it also found that Ms Harris and Mr Newsom would lose to Mr Trump if they replaced Mr Biden as the Democrat nominee.

The poll found that Mr Trump would win 292 electoral votes to Mr Biden’s 246.

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