Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Wednesday that President Joe Biden, 80, is likely to die within five years and that his supporters would have to count on Vice President Kamala Harris if he were to win re-election next year.
“He announced that he’s running again in 2024, and I think that we can all be very clear and say with a matter of fact that if you vote for Joe Biden you really are counting on a President Harris, because the idea that he would make it until 86 years old is not something that I think is likely,” Haley, 51, said in an interview on Fox News.
In an unusually blunt response from the White House, deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told NBC News, “As you know, we don’t directly respond to campaigns from here. But honestly, I forgot she was running.”
Biden officially announced his re-election campaign Tuesday with a video that took aim at “MAGA” Republicans, referring to former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Haley has framed her presidential bid around a “new generation” of leadership. In a speech launching her campaign, she suggested that politicians over 75 be required to take a mental competency test — a proposal first lady Jill Biden slammed as “ridiculous.”
Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, is working to combat concerns about his age heading into 2024. Republicans are weighing how far to push the issue in the campaign without alienating older Americans, who tend to be dependable voters.
White House aides have also tried to demonstrate that Biden is active and fit. The video announcing his re-election campaign shows him jogging in his suit jacket. The White House has also produced a spreadsheet showing Biden’s rigorous travel schedule through the first four months of the year, which surpasses that of President Barack Obama at a comparable period in the 2012 campaign.
“And with regard to age, I can’t even say I guess how old I am. I can’t even say the number," Biden said Wednesday at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Suk Yeol. "It doesn’t register with me. I took a hard look at it before I decided to run. And I feel good."
Biden had previously dismissed concerns about his age, responding "watch me" when asked about his fitness for office.