President Biden says he 'took a hard look' at his age when considering his reelection run
(CNN) -- President Joe Biden says he "took a hard look" at his own age as he contemplated whether to seek reelection, marking his first substantive response to a question about his decision to run for president again since he announced his 2024 bid on Tuesday.
"(The American electorate is) going to see a race, and they're going to judge whether or not I have it or don't have it. I respect them taking a hard look at it. I take a hard look at it as well -- I took a hard look at it before I decided to run, and I feel good, I feel excited about the prospects," Biden said when pressed on his age during a joint press conference on Wednesday alongside South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the White House.
At 80 years old, Biden is the oldest president in American history, and if reelected, he would be 86 when ending his second term. It's been a looming political issue for the president, with polls consistently reflecting concern about his age, even among Democrats, before a reelection run was announced.
"With regard to age, I can't even say I guess how old I am. I can't even say the number -- it doesn't register with me," he joked.
The 2024 campaign was the topic of one of just a small handful of questions Biden fielded at the joint press conference alongside Yoon, who was at the White House as part of a state visit.
The scheduling of the state visit at the White House a day after Biden's reelection announcement was coincidental, according to officials familiar with the planning. But the set-pieces of American diplomacy -- pulled out to reaffirm the US-South Korean alliance -- happen to serve Biden's own purposes, reflecting a strategy of using the trappings of the presidency to lend its current incumbent a degree political capital.
It's something Biden's political team hopes to harness as he seeks a second term, according to officials, including in the coming months before his campaign truly gets underway.
That includes using Air Force One to fly to ribbon-cuttings, groundbreakings and factory openings made possible by some of his signature legislation, much of it opposed by Republicans.
It will also include a heavy schedule of foreign travel, starting next month in Japan and Australia and continuing over the summer with a trip to Europe, that will put Biden on the global stage -- and many time-zones away from whatever political crisis is engulfing Washington. Aides have laid preliminary plans for one foreign trip per month over the coming months.
Biden has told his advisers he believes his main job is being president, and plans to focus primarily on his presidential duties -- not his campaign -- for the foreseeable future.
In reality, everything he does will be viewed through a political lens now that he is a candidate, a fact not lost on the president or his team.
No one is under the illusion the advantages of the incumbency will erase the significant headwinds Biden faces, including his age and approval rating. The same advantages did not ultimately secure former president and 2024 contender Donald Trump a second term. They do, however, hope the built-in authority of actually being president can provide Biden with an upper-hand as Americans begin to tune into the election.
Wednesday was a literal demonstration of the "Rose Garden strategy," the longstanding approach by a sitting president to use the power of the presidency to secure reelection.
Standing in the garden alongside his South Korean counterpart, Biden fielded questions on nuclear threats and the economy while reaffirming ties to Seoul. But he also warned against the "danger" that Trump "presents to our democracy," and sought to remind his audience what he inherited upon taking office as he defended his own performance as president, pointing to national debt and a "serious loss of credibility around the world."
Biden said at the news conference that he believes he would still be running if Trump wasn't seeking reelection.
"I think I still would be running if (Trump) wasn't. I do know him well ... Look, there's just -- there's more to finish the job. We have an opportunity to put ourselves in a position where we are economically and politically secure for a long time... So, I think we have to finish the job and nail it down," he added.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.