Trump’s Favorite Biden Taunt Has Backfired

Donald Trump has spent the last four years describing Joe Biden as a doddering old fool. It is, after all, a very effective opposition strategy: The vast majority of Americans believe that Biden, 80, is too old to run for reelection. But Trump has spent the past few weeks on a gaffe spree that is undeniably Biden-esque. And at 77, the leading Republican presidential candidate is susceptible to the exact same attacks. 

Trump, for instance, has confused the leaders of Hungary and Turkey; mixed up Jeb Bush and his brother George W. Bush; misidentified Barack Obama as his 2016 election opponent; and struggled at times to read from a teleprompter, even while continuing to mock Biden over his teleprompter troubles.

His latest gaffe came Sunday during a speech in Sioux City, Iowa, a location that Trump mistakenly identified as Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He later corrected the error after Bradley Zaun, a Republican state lawmaker, approached Trump onstage to remind him where he was. However, the intervention only resulted in Trump underscoring his mistake while trying to save face. “So, Sioux City, let me ask you, how many people come from Sioux City? How many people?” he said. “Who doesn’t come from Sioux City? Where the hell do you come from?” 

The ordeal was made all the richer by an onstage routine performed by Trump earlier this month, in which he intentionally confused Iowa with Idaho while impersonating the president. (Biden hasn’t mixed up those particular states, but he did refer to New Hampshire as Nevada in a famous 2020 gaffe.) 

The Biden campaign, meanwhile, is using this moment to highlight times Trump has appeared incoherent and confused. On X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, it shared videos of Trump’s Sioux City slipup, as well as videos of the ex-president being unable to pronounce the words “terrorism” and “Hamas” during another speech over the weekend. 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis, Trump’s foremost rival in the GOP primary, incorporated a similar strategy into his campaign last week, launching an “accident tracker” to tally the days since Trump’s last blunder. DeSantis also recently claimed that Trump “lost the zip on his fastball” and is not the same candidate who successfully ran for president. “In 2016, he was freewheeling, he’s out there barnstorming the country,” he said while speaking to reporters in New Hampshire. “Now it’s just a different guy. And it’s sad to see.”

Trump, for his part, does appear aware that questions about Biden’s age could be turned against him. He said in an interview last month that Biden wasn’t “too old” to run for reelection, instead calling him “grossly incompetent.” 

However, that argument doesn’t mesh with voter sentiment. An August survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 77% of Americans said Biden was too old to effectively govern for another term. That feeling extended to both parties, with 89% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats describing Biden as too old. Trump was less vulnerable on the question, although roughly half of the respondents still believed he was too old to lead the country.

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