The vile, corrupt, angry, coarse Donald Trump appeared in full, disgusting display Thursday night at a rally in front of his dwindling “core” of supporters in Minneapolis.
In just three minutes, he churned out five major lies as his pitiful defense of his impeachable actions against the Constitution, the nation and its people.
He told his remaining rabid — and clueless — “fans” that Joe Biden “as only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” That, of course, brought raucous cheers from the racists who dominate his base.
His displays of outright bigotry included attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), the first Somali-American in Congress.
Trump also mocked Omar, the first Somali-American in Congress.
“How hell did that ever happen?” he said of her election, adding: “Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.”
Rep Omar is a frequent target of a bigot like Trump. Earlier this year, he included her in an attack on four minority Democratic female members of Congress, saying they all should “to back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
When Elaine Duke was acting director of homeland security, Trump screamed at for not doing more to “ban refugees from fucking Somalia.”
He ignored that all four of the women are American citizens and three of them were born in the United States.
Trump’s tone at the rally in Minneapolis brought outcries from social media.
“This is the kind hate rally ween in authoritarian and fascist countries,” posted Elad Nehori. “We Jews have seen this before, as have countless other minorities.”
And speaking of “totally broken and crime-infested places,” that description could easily describe Washington, DC, which is ever more so since Trump became this nation’s accidental president and Manhattan, which he is from.
Trump tirades came as more and more facts emerge on his corruption and the criminal actions of his administration. We’ve learned how he tried to get former Secretary of State Tex Tillerson to “intervene” in Ukrainian prosecution of an ally of his lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
“The modern day Hitler,” said Mara McEwin on Twitter. The red shirts, rec caps are the new brown shirts. Truly terrifying.”
“The special hate that Trump and the alt-right have for Somalis, above and beyond all other immigrant groups, has always fascinated and disgusted me,” posted Noah Smith.
Erin Maye Quade, a former Minnesota state rep, notes that Trump supporters bombed a mosque in Bloomington, MN, made death threats against a member of the Minnesota Congressional delegation and mailed bombs to Democrats.
“Many elected officials (with Somali constituents) were in attendance tonight,” she adds. “They should be asked about this.”
A lot of people should also be asked why they elected such a vile, despicable degenerate for president.
Ensnarled in an impeachment investigation over his request for Ukraine to investigate a chief political rival, President Donald Trump Thursday called on another nation to probe former Vice President Joe Biden: China.
“China should start an investigation into the Bidens,” Trump said in remarks to reporters outside the White House. Trump said he hadn’t directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate Biden and his son Hunter but said it’s “certainly something we could start thinking about.”
Trump and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have also tried to raise suspicions about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China, leaning on the writings of conservative author Peter Schweizer. But there is no evidence that the former vice president benefited financially from his son’s business relationships.
Trump’s requests for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to dig up dirt on Biden, as well as Giuliani’s conduct, are at the center of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that sparked the House Democratic impeachment probe last week.
Trump’s comments came as he publicly acknowledged that his message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other officials was to investigate the 2020 Democratic presidential contender. Trump’s accusations of impropriety are unsupported by evidence.
“It’s a very simple answer,” Trump said of his call with Zelenskiy. “They should investigate the Bidens.”
Trump has sought to implicate Biden and his son in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden assured supporters Wednesday night that his message to President Donald Trump is “I’m not going anywhere” as he laid out his most forceful pushback yet to Trump’s baseless attacks.
In a rebuke of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the former vice president said during a 20-minute speech at a rally that he’s not surprised Trump asked a foreign government for help to defeat him. Trump’s effort to enlist Ukraine has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the Democratic-led House.
Trump and his allies have accused Biden and his son Hunter, without evidence, of participating in the kind of corruption that has plagued Ukraine. They point to Hunter Biden’s service on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. Yet no one has produced evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
“Let me make something clear to Trump and his hatchet men and the special interests funding his attacks against me. I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said to loud cheers.
“It’s not about Donald Trump’s antics. It’s about what has brought Donald Trump, and the nation, to this sobering moment in our history and to the choice facing us in 2020,” he said. “What has brought us here is simply this: the abuse of power.”
A complaint by a government whistleblower helped make public Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president. House investigators said Wednesday they will issue a subpoena demanding all White House and Trump administration documents related to efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son.
“Desperate and defensive, Trump sends one crazed tweet after another _ insinuating that the whistleblower should be dealt with extensively, using the word ‘executed,’ threatening to prosecute the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warning direly of civil war if he is impeached,” he said.
Biden praised the whistleblower and accused Trump of repeatedly smearing the Biden family.
“Now because of the courageous actions of a whistleblower, Trump’s scheme has been exposed,” he said. “He did it because, like every bully in history _ he’s afraid. He’s afraid of just how badly he may be beaten in November.”
More than 400 people crowded into the student center at Truckee Meadows Community College for Biden’s rally after he joined eight other White House hopefuls at a gun policy forum in Las Vegas earlier in the day. It marked the first time this year the early Democratic presidential front-runner had brought his campaign to northern Nevada.
Nevada’s caucuses in February follow Iowa and New Hampshire as third in the nominating process. It was one of the few key swing states that Trump failed to carry in 2016. Biden historically has enjoyed strong support from labor unions and others in Washoe County, including Reno and Sparks.
Very behind the scenes, a whistleblower from the intelligence community voiced urgent concern about a matter involving a conversation between Ukraine’s leader and President Donald Trump. It’s so hush-hush that even Democrats won’t say all that they know, or suspect.
Very much out in the open, Trump is calling for an investigation that involves Ukraine and could help him win re-election if it breaks his way.
Trump’s interest in getting dirt from abroad on prospective Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden has been hiding in plain sight for months. His fealty to standards that other presidents have either lived by or pretended to — as when it comes to chats with foreign leaders, for example — is thin.
This is, after all, the man who openly encouraged Russia to snoop on Hillary Clinton’s email and much more recently said that, sure, he’d listen to foreigners who come to him with dirt on an opponent. Why not? he wondered.
As the contours of the episode roiling the capital begin to flesh out, here are some questions and answers at the intersection of Trump, Ukraine and the whistleblower.
WHY THE WHISTLE?
Because someone in the government, who is under the umbrella of U.S. intelligence, saw or heard something that raised a credible and “urgent concern” about how someone else in government did or said something that “involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community.” That’s according to Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for intelligence.
It’s no more spelled out than that so far, because the complaint remains a closely held secret.
But the complaint was based on a series of events, one of which was a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the issue by name and were granted anonymity.
WHAT DOES TRUMP SAY ABOUT THE COMPLAINT?
“Just another political hack job.”
“I have conversations with many leaders. It’s always appropriate.”
As for the July 25 phone conversation he had with Zelenskiy: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed.”
WHAT DO DEMOCRATS SAY?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says if reports about the complaint bear out, Trump faces “serious repercussions” and the nation will have “grave, urgent concerns for our national security.”
As the leader at the center of a months-long Democratic debate over whether to impeach Trump — she has resisted pressure from members to do so — Pelosi will find her every word on this matter scrutinized for signs of whether this makes her want to move ahead.
WHERE DO UKRAINE AND BIDEN COME INTO IT?
Biden was vice president, with some influence over U.S. policy on Ukraine, when son Hunter was on the board of an energy company owned by a Ukrainian businessman. Trump for months has been calling for more scrutiny of that period and impugning corrupt motives to the business and government work of the Biden family, without putting forward evidence of wrongdoing.
“Someone ought to look into Joe Biden,” he said again Friday, undeterred by the revelation of the whistleblower complaint.
The question arising from this matter is whether Trump personally pressed Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens in that phone call or other times and, if so, whether seeking or accepting such help from a foreign leader to benefit his re-election constitutes a misuse of presidential power. That question can’t be answered with what’s known so far.
IS THIS RUSSIA REDUX, JUST A DIFFERENT COUNTRY?
There are some similarities with the episode investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller as he tracked an aggressive effort by Russia to tilt the 2016 U.S. election to Trump. There are also differences, as well as much that remains unknown.
The Mueller report informed or reminded everyone that it’s illegal for a political campaign to accept a “thing of value” from a foreign government. It could be argued that an investigation by a foreign government meant to harm a political opponent would be a thing of value, and pressing for one could be perilous for a U.S. president.
It could also be argued that it is not. The Trump administration has had longstanding complaints about corruption in Ukraine and asking for corruption to be investigated is, on the surface, different than the potential collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign that Mueller looked into.
One striking twist here is that pressure for a Ukrainian investigation of the Bidens has come most publicly not from the government or the campaign, but from Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani has been working for months to get Ukraine’s leadership to probe the Bidens.
In May, Giuliani scrapped plans to take his case for a Biden investigation directly to authorities in Kiev, when word got out about the trip. But he’s been talking to Ukrainians about it.
At the time, he tweeted: “Explain to me why Biden shouldn’t be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while He was VP and point man for Ukraine.”
Trump tag-teamed him on the Biden matter, telling Fox News “I’m hearing it’s a major scandal, major problem.”
Asked Thursday on CNN whether he’d pressed Ukrainian leaders to probe the Bidens, Giuliani said: “Of course I did” seconds after saying “No, actually I didn’t.”
WHERE’S THE COMPLAINT?
Only bits and pieces of information about it have emerged because the administration has balked at showing it to Congress, much less to the public.
The timeline is this: Atkinson, the inspector general, received the complaint Aug. 12, reviewed it and found it credible and urgent, and forwarded it two weeks later to Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence. Maguire’s office decided the complaint was outside the agency’s jurisdiction and not urgent, and informed Congress Sept. 9 of the situation without showing it the complaint. Atkinson said that was a break from normal procedure, which is to disclose the contents to lawmakers.
That’s when House Democrats began to suspect that Trump was the subject of the complaint and quickly followed with a subpoena, yet to be satisfied.
Atkinson appeared before the House intelligence committee behind closed doors Thursday but declined, under administration orders, to tell lawmakers the substance of the complaint. Maguire has agreed to give public testimony Sept. 26 and both are expected to talk to the Senate intelligence committee during the week.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire, Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner. And there were moments in Thursday night’s debate when he looked the part.
Standing between a pair of liberal senators offering radical change, he unabashedly embraced his more moderate position on health care, forcefully pressuring Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to level with Americans about the steep cost of implementing a fully government-run system. He was more polished and practiced than in previous contests. And he repeatedly leaned on the legacy of former President Barack Obama, who remains the most popular Democrat in the nation.
“I’m for Barack — I think the Obamacare worked,” he declared.
But the debate was punctuated by moments that highlighted why Biden can’t shake questions about his consistency and whispers about his fitness for office, despite his lead in most national polls and early state surveys. Most glaringly: a meandering answer near the end of the debate about his past statements on racial inequality. Biden said poor parents should play the “record player” for their children before veering off into comments about Venezuela.
Biden’s standing in the Democratic contest is the source of much debate within the party. Is he an experienced elder statesman who can calm an anxious nation and peel back some of the white working class voters who helped send President Donald Trump to the White House? Or is the 76-year-old past his prime and out of step with a party that is growing younger, more diverse and more liberal?
Thursday night’s contest provided fresh fodder for each of those theories.
Biden was at his best in his lengthy exchange with Sanders and Warren over the future of health care in America. He confidently pressed them over the cost of their sweeping “Medicare for All” proposals, exposing Warren’s unwillingness to say whether middle class Americans would see a tax increase under her plan (Sanders says they would, but argues the rise would be offset by lower health care costs).
In a retort to Sanders, who has said he expects employers would pass on health care savings to their workers, Biden exclaimed: “For a socialist you’ve got a lot more confidence in corporate America than I do.”
Biden was the focus of fierce criticism from his rivals in both of the previous Democratic debates. But those attacks did little to diminish Biden’s standing atop polls, nor has a series of verbal flubs and misstatements throughout the summer.
The other reality: The candidates who have launched the sharpest attacks on Biden have gained little ground or already dropped out of the race. Sen. Kamala Harris, for example, bested Biden in the opening debate with a highly personal critique over his decades-old position on federally mandated school busing, but any boost for her candidacy was short-lived.
Perhaps mindful of that reality, most candidates sidestepped overt criticism of the vice president in Thursday’s debate.
The one notable exception was Julián Castro, who served as Obama’s housing secretary and is in need of a jolt to break out of the lower tier of candidates. In a highly charged moment, Castro challenged Biden’s memory — a barely veiled reference to questions about the former vice president’s age.
“Are you forgetting already what you just said two minutes ago?” Castro said during an exchange on health care.
In a post-debate interview, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker laid into Biden as well, saying there were many people concerned about Biden’s ability to carry the ball “across the end line without fumbling.”
Castro and Booker were zeroing in on real questions that are being asked about Biden. Is he too old to serve as president? If he were the nominee, would he make a mistake at a critical moment that could clear the way for Trump?
Biden’s stumbles later in the debate magnified those questions. He struggled through an answer about the war in Iraq and gave a grab-bag answer to a question about how to repair the legacy of slavery in America. He appeared to suggest that poorer families needed help learning how to raise their children.
Biden’s supporters argue that ultimately, those answers — and the questions they raise — matter less to voters than their overall impressions of the former vice president. Indeed, there is a deep reservoir of goodwill for Biden in the Democratic Party, shaped in large part by the eight years he served as Obama’s No. 2.
Which leaves little doubt as to why Biden spent much of the debate reminding Americans about those years, urging them to see him as the rightful heir to legacy of the last Democrat to occupy the Oval Office.
“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years — good, bad, indifferent,” Biden said.
Editor’s note: Washington bureau chief Julie Pace has covered the White House and politics for AP since 2007. Follow her at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
Joe Biden parried attack after attack from liberal rivals Thursday night on everything from health care to immigration in a debate that showcased profound ideological divides between the Democratic Party’s moderate and progressive wings.
The prime-time debate also elevated several struggling candidates, giving them a chance to introduce themselves to millions of Americans who are just beginning to follow the race.
Biden dominated significant parts of the evening, responding strongly when the liberal senators who are his closet rivals — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — assailed him and his policies.
Unlike prior debates, where Biden struggled for words and seemed surprised by criticism from fellow Democrats, he largely delivered crisp, aggressive responses. He called Sanders “a socialist,” a label that could remind voters of the senator’s embrace of democratic socialism. And Biden slapped at Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax.
A two-term vice president under Barack Obama, Biden unequivocally defended his former boss, who came under criticism from some candidates for deporting immigrants and not going far enough on health care reform.
“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good bad and indifferent,” Biden declared.
His vulnerabilities surfaced, however, in the final minutes of the debate, when he was pressed on a decades-old statement regarding school integration. Biden rambled in talking about his support of teachers, the lack of resources for educators and at one point seemed to encourage parents to play records for their children to expand their vocabulary before segueing into talk of Latin America.
“That’s quite a lot,” quipped Julian Castro, the former Housing secretary who was Biden’s frequent foe during the debate.
The candidates debated with polls showing a strong majority of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction under the first-term Republican president’s leadership. But nine months into their nomination fight, divided Democrats have yet to answer fundamental questions about who or what the party stands for beyond simply opposing President Donald Trump.
The party’s 2020 class, once featuring two dozen candidates, has essentially been cut in half by party rules requiring higher polling and fundraising standards. Just 10 candidates qualified for Thursday’s affair, though more than that have qualified for next month’s round.
Those in the second tier, after Biden, Warren and Sanders, are under increasing pressure to break out of the pack. They all assailed Trump.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called Trump a racist. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke called him a white supremacist. And Kamala Harris, a California senator, said Trump’s hateful social media messages provided “the ammunition” for recent mass shootings.
“President Trump, you have spent the last two-and-a-half years full time trying to sow hate and vision among us, and that’s why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris charged.
In addition to Trump, Biden’s rivals also turned against Obama’s legacy at times as they sought to undermine the former vice president’s experience.
Sanders insisted that Biden bears responsibility for millions of Americans going bankrupt under the “Obamacare” health care system. Castro raised questions about the Obama-Biden record on immigration, particularly the number of deportations that took place.
Castro, a 44-year-old Texan, appeared to touch on concerns about Biden’s age when he accused the former vice president of forgetting a detail about his own health care plan. At 76, Biden would be the oldest president ever elected to a first term.
“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” an incredulous Castro asked, challenging Biden on health care. “I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that you have to buy in and now you’re forgetting that.”
He added: “I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you’re not.”
The ABC News debate was the first limited to one night after several candidates dropped out and others failed to meet new qualification standards. A handful more candidates qualified for next month’s debate, which will again be divided over two nights.
As well as policy differences, the Democratic debates have been shaped by broader questions about diversity.
In a nod to the diverse coalition they need to defeat Trump, the Democrats held this debate on the campus of historically black Texas Southern University. It unfolded in a rapidly changing state that Democrats hope to eventually bring into their column.
The party cheered when America elected the most diverse congressional class in history in last fall’s midterm voting. But some Democrats still fear that anyone other than a white man may struggle in a head-to-head matchup against Trump.
Biden was one of four white men onstage.
Along with health care, gun violence emerged as a flashpoint Thursday night in a state shaken by a mass shooting last month that left 22 people dead and two dozen more wounded.
O’Rourke noted that there weren’t enough ambulances at times to take all the wounded to the hospital.
“Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said as the crowd cheered.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that all the candidates on stage favor a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. She favors a voluntary buy-back program on assault weapons, however.
The national economy got surprisingly little attention, though several of the candidates criticized Trump on foreign trade and his trade war with China.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Trump had said scornfully of his candidacy “he’d like to see me making a deal with Xi Jinping,” the Chinese president.
“I’d like to see HIM making a deal with Xi Jinping.”
Trump was silent on social media during the event. But Kayleigh McEnany, his campaign’s national press secretary, said in a statement: “Thank you to ABC and the Democrat Party for another infomercial for President Trump!”
Earlier in the day, Trump said he’d likely have to watch a re-run because of travel conflict. He predicted the Democratic nominee would ultimately be Biden, Warren or Sanders.
Peoples reported from Washington. AP writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.
For all the strategic calculations, sophisticated voter targeting and relentless talk about electability in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Democratic presidential nomination will be determined by a decidedly different group: black voters.
African Americans will watch as mostly white voters in the first two contests express preferences and winnow the field — then they will almost certainly anoint the winner.
So far, that helps explain the front-running status of former Vice President Joe Biden. He has name recognition, a relationship with America’s first black president and decades long Democratic resume. Black voters have long been at the foundation of his support — his home state of Delaware, where he served as a U.S. senator for nearly four decades, is 38 percent black — and until another presidential candidate proves that he or she can beat him, he is likely to maintain that support.
In the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton held a strong lead among black voters over Barack Obama until he stunned her by winning the Iowa caucuses and proved to black voters that he was acceptable to a broad spectrum of Democrats. Those same voters returned to Clinton in 2016.
This cycle, many black voters are also making a pragmatic choice — driven as much or more by who can defeat President Donald Trump as the issues they care about — and sitting back to see which candidate white voters are comfortable with before deciding whom they will back.
At the same time, the early courtship of black voters, overt and subtle, is part of a primary within the primary that includes detailed plans on issues like criminal justice reform, reparations, maternal mortality among black women, voter suppression and systemic racism.
“As black voters and movers and drivers of national politics, our self-image and awareness of our power and influence is evolving,” said Aimee Allison, founder of the She the People network, which hosted the first presidential forum aimed specifically at female voters of color.
Trump appealed to black voters during the 2016 campaign by saying “What the hell do you have to lose?” and ended up with only 8 percent of the black vote. But the Republican president again is saying he will try to win over black voters, frequently citing low unemployment and his own success in signing criminal justice legislation. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that he will succeed.
But the first test of the decisiveness of black voters will come in the primaries. African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population but 24 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. That number is more formidable in the early primary state of South Carolina, where black voters are two-thirds of primary voters, and in other early voting states like Georgia, Alabama and Virginia.
Biden reminded black reporters in a recent roundtable that his strength is not just with working class whites, but with the black voters he’s known for more than half a century in politics.
“After all this time, they think they have a sense of what my character is and who I am, warts and all,” Biden said. “I’ll be surprised if you find any African Americans that think I’m not in on the deal, that I’m not who I say I am … I’ve never, ever, ever in my entire life been in circumstances where I’ve ever felt uncomfortable being in the black community.”
He acknowledged that his familiarity is no assurance of success. And he noted that black voters may ultimately prefer black candidates like Sens. Kamala Harris of California or Cory Booker of New Jersey. First, though, one of them would have to prove to black voters that they were viable alternatives.
Black voters can be decisive not only in determining the Democrats’ nominee but also the ultimate winner. While Democrats have peaked in recent cycles with white voters at around 40 percent, black voters have been their most loyal constituency.
But in 2016, a drop-off among black voters had consequences. Black voter turnout dropped from 65.3 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent, and Hillary Clinton received 89 percent of the black vote, compared with 93 percent for Barack Obama in 2012 and 95 percent in 2008.
“It comes down to a strategy decision that campaigns have to make: Do they believe that the way to win the White House is to win white voters, or do they believe that the way to White House is to mobilize voters of color?” said Leah Daughtry, who recently hosted a 2020 Democratic forum for black faith voters in Atlanta.
“Is there a strategy that allows you to do both? Perhaps,” Daughtry said. “But one is a sure bet. If you get us to the polls, we are most likely to vote Democrat. If you get white folks to the polls, you don’t know what they’re going to do.”
In the past, Biden would have been a prohibitive favorite, said LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter. But black voters are demanding that candidates deliver on their priorities in a way they haven’t done in recent history.
“Black folks are looking to figure out who white voters are going to align with, but I don’t think that’s the driver that it has been in the past,” she continued. “Black voters, like white voters, are increasingly frustrated with the process. No longer is it good enough to choose between the devil or the witch.”
Science says age is only a number, not a proxy for physical and mental fitness. But with three Democrats in their 70s vying to challenge the oldest first-term president in American history, age’s importance will be tested as never before.
Only a few years separate President Donald Trump, 73, from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 77, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 76. But as Trump mocks Biden for verbal missteps, suggesting age has slowed his Democratic rival, both Sanders and Biden have conspicuously showcased their physical activity during the campaign.
Cameras have captured a third top Democratic contender, 70-year-old Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, taking high-energy jogs around rallies where she stays hours afterward to snap photos with supporters.
While the risks of disease and death rise substantially in the 70s and beyond, many specialists caution that the age on your driver’s license means far less than how healthy you are and how well you function — what’s sometimes called your “biologic age.”
“I’m not going to sugarcoat aging,” said well-known aging researcher S. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois at Chicago. But, he added, “how many times they’ve traveled around the sun should not be a litmus test for the presidency.”
Still, it’s not straightforward to figure out just how fit these septuagenarians — or any candidates — really are. No law requires them to disclose their medical records. A doctor’s note or some test results may reveal snippets. Those shed little light on one of the biggest questions about aging leaders: How likely is their memory or overall mental acuity to decline?
After all, many neuroscientists question if President Ronald Reagan, 73 when re-elected, showed signs of cognitive trouble during his second term. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s years after leaving office.
Checkups do offer a clue.
“A healthier heart, for example, is going to translate to a healthier brain,” said Dr. Anne Newman, who directs the University of Pittsburgh Center for Aging and Population Health.
Likewise some habits are critical: a good diet, exercise and enough sleep. Trump, a fast-food fan and late-night tweeter who doesn’t exercise regularly, has scoffed at that advice. Still, his doctor earlier this year said he’s overall in good health despite needing to lose weight and stick with cholesterol-lowering medicine.
But there’s no easy predictor.
“You can have a group of people who at age 80 are still going to work every day, doing all the stuff they need to do,” Newman said. “We’re not very good at understanding who’s going to be able to tolerate the stress in emergency situations,” like the 3 a.m. crises presidents so often must navigate.
Some experts have called for independent health exams for presidents and candidates of all ages, much like the fit-for-flight physicals that pilots undergo. To Newman, the grueling endurance contest that is a U.S. presidential campaign is a pretty good substitute.
“For most people who go through that kind of a rigorous schedule, chances are they’re going to be healthy for at least five if not 10 years,” she said.
That hasn’t stopped age, and a call for generational change, from affecting past elections.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., faced questions about his fitness when seeking the presidency in 2008 at age 71 against then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., nearly 25 years his junior. During his 1984 re-election bid, Reagan famously promised not to take advantage of 56-year-old Democratic foe Walter Mondale’s “youth and inexperience.”
Today’s candidates likewise don’t think they’re too old.
Sanders told The Associated Press that voters “must and will judge candidates in terms of the totality of their being,” including their experience and records as well as their ages.
“I am very happy — well, I am lucky, I suppose — to tell you that I am in good health and have a great deal of endurance, and I would not have run for this job as president of the United States unless I thought I was absolutely, 100% physically able to do it,” he said in an interview during a recent campaign swing through South Carolina.
Two days later, Sanders was in Iowa tossing some pitches in a campaign-sponsored softball game and taking his turn at bat. Warren spent the week hopscotching from South Carolina to Iowa to Minnesota to California, an itinerary that might weary someone half her age, while Biden went from Massachusetts to Iowa.
Biden had a brush with death in 1988, requiring surgery to repair two brain aneurysms — weak bulges in arteries, one of them leaking. Medical records released in 2008 during Biden’s vice presidential campaign showed he’d made a full recovery with no trouble since.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who has treated Biden since he served as vice president, said in a statement provided by the campaign that Biden is “in excellent physical condition” and “more than capable of handling the rigors of the campaign.”
The stress of the Oval Office doesn’t shorten presidents’ lives, Olshansky reported in a 2011 study . Curious at the attention paid to Obama’s graying hair, Olshansky found that 23 of 34 presidents who had died of natural causes lived beyond the average life expectancy of men the same age when they were inaugurated.
What about the 2020 candidates? Olshansky used life insurance statistics to calculate average life expectancies of U.S. citizens of the same gender and age at inauguration as each candidate.
Not surprisingly, 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, the youngest of the candidate crop, should have the most years ahead of him.
But by Olshansky’s calculations, the 70-somethings also would have great odds of surviving in office. Based on the average for their age, that’s a 76.8% chance for Sanders; 79.2% for Biden; 84.8% for Trump and, reflecting that women tend to outlive men, a 91.8% chance for Warren.
And the candidates’ survival odds likely are even higher, Olshansky said, because people who are wealthy, well-educated and have good health care tend to live longer than average. (In addition to the campaign’s four higher-polling senior citizens, the president’s longshot GOP primary challenger Bill Weld is 74.)
Of course, that’s assuming no candidate has a worrisome illness that hasn’t come to light. Presidents of all ages have proved pretty adept at hiding frailty. Woodrow Wilson had a secret stroke. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s doctors concealed his heart disease and shockingly high blood pressure. Only years after his assassination did the public learn how the seemingly vibrant John F. Kennedy struggled with chronic pain and a list of health problems.
When it comes to brain health, even normal aging can bring a slowing of certain functions such as retrieving memories. Trump has targeted Biden’s career-long penchant for verbal gaffes, such as when Biden recently compared “poor kids” with “white kids.” Trump later questioned whether Biden is “mentally fit to be president,” an ironic dig given the president’s own slips and lack of verbal finesse.
Stumbling in speeches, especially given how politicians’ every word is scrutinized, isn’t surprising, Olshansky said: “Mistakes happen whether you’re 35 or 75.”
It’s true that advancing age is a risk for Alzheimer’s, which affects about 3% of people ages 65 to 74 and 17% of those 75 to 84. But Olshansky is watching for a president’s ability to think and reason clearly and focus on the big picture, something that can improve with age-infused experience.
Trump did request a memory test at his first White House physical, and his doctor said he aced it. But Newman cautioned that “anybody running for president is not going to do badly” on that simple test. It takes specialists hours to perform the more complex testing required to detect subtle problems, tests that must be repeated to spot any decline.
It’s not clear how much health information candidates of any age will release this time around.
But doctor reports and medical records are a snapshot, not a crystal ball.
McCain released more than a thousand pages in 2008, seeking to ease concern about previous bouts of melanoma. He died a year ago of a brain tumor those records couldn’t predict, although Olshansky notes that McCain would have survived two terms had he been elected. Back in 1992, Paul Tsongas unsuccessfully campaigned for the Democratic nomination as a cancer survivor, with some doctors vouching that he was cured, only to have his lymphoma return shortly after the election.
And Bill Clinton appeared fairly robust as president yet needed open-heart surgery at age 58 after leaving office, admitting he’d quit taking his cholesterol medication.
A June poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests age is a factor for some voters. About one-third of Democratic voters said they would be more excited to vote for a candidate if that person is younger, and about one-quarter would be less excited to vote for one who is older.
One of those voters, retiree Ken Carpenter, bikes 10 miles most days to maintain his health. But the 77-year-old Carpenter said in a recent interview that he’s ruled out his contemporaries in the Democratic primary, deeming Biden and Sanders simply too old to handle the demands of the presidency.
“I know that eventually the aging process, something kicks in and you start losing it,” Carpenter said on the sidelines of the Iowa State Fair. “That could happen to Joe in six months. Or to Bernie.”
Biden himself gave a one-word response in Iowa when asked by a reporter if he would consider making a pledge to serve just one term if it alleviated concerns about his age: “No.”
Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, Steven Sloan in Des Moines, Iowa, Julie Pace in Prole, Iowa, and AP Polling Editor Emily Swanson in Washington contributed to this report.
Racism in America is an institutional “white man’s problem visited on people of color,” Vice President Joe Biden said, arguing that the way to attack the issue is to defeat President Donald Trump and hold him responsible for deepening the nation’s racial divide.
Taking aim at incendiary racial appeals by Trump, Biden said in an interview with a small group of reporters on Tuesday that a president’s words can “appeal to the worst damn instincts of human nature,” just as they can move markets or take a nation into war.
Biden is leading his Democratic challengers for the presidential nomination in almost all polls, largely because of the support of black voters. He has made appealing to them central to his candidacy and vowed to make maximizing black and Latino turnout an “overwhelming focus” of his effort. The interview, more than an hour long, focused largely on racial issues.
“White folks are the reason we have institutional racism,” Biden said. “There has always been racism in America. White supremacists have always existed, they still exist.” He added later that in his administration, it would “not be tolerated.”
By highlighting the nation’s racial tensions and placing blame on Trump, Biden is showing that he, too, is willing to make race a core campaign issue, but from the opposite perspective of the Republican president. Turnout and enthusiasm among black voters will be critical for the Democratic nominee, notably to try to reclaim states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. He also emphasized a crossover appeal to both black voters and non-college-educated white voters.
To accentuate his appeal to black voters, Biden said that he will advertise in black publications and engage with cultural institutions like the black church, black fraternities and sororities, and historically black colleges.
“The bad news is I have a long record. The good news is I have a long record,” Biden said when asked about his enduring support among black voters. “People know me — at least they think they know me. I think after all this time, I think they have a sense of what my character is, who I am.”
“I’ve never, ever, ever in my entire life been in a circumstance where I’ve ever felt uncomfortable being in the black community,” he added, suggesting that his familiarity was not matched by many of his competitors for the 2020 nomination.
While he did not specify to whom he was referring, Biden said he believes there are “assertions and assumptions” made about black voters that he believes are inaccurate, and he said that “a lot of people haven’t spent much time in the community.”
Without mentioning her by name, Biden also referenced California Sen. Kamala Harris’ attack on him during the first presidential debate on the issue of busing as a solution to school desegregation.
“All I know is I don’t think anybody in the community thinks I am — what’s the phrase?” Biden asked, paraphrasing Harris’ comment that “I know you’re not a racist, Joe.”
“I don’t think anyone thinks that about me,” Biden said.
Biden was also asked whether he would select a woman or person of color as his running mate should he become the nominee. He said that while he would “preferably” do so, he is ultimately seeking a partner on the ticket who is “simpatico with what I stand for and what I want to get done.”
“Whomever I pick would be preferably someone who was of color and who was of a different gender, but I’m not making that commitment until I know that the person I’m dealing with I can completely, thoroughly trust, is authentic, and is on the same page.”
Looking ahead to the next Democratic debate in Houston in September, he said that he understands why he has a target on his back but cautioned that Democrats “shouldn’t be forming a circular firing squad and shooting” because it only helps Trump.
Trump’s reelection campaign dismissed Biden’s accusation that Trump had inflamed racial tensions in the country.
“Having moved on from the Russia Hoax, Democrats are now employing the oldest play in the Democrat playbook: falsely accusing their opponent of racism, extending it even to the President’s supporters. Calling half the country racist is not a winning strategy,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director.
Biden also said that the Democratic field would narrow and allow for more meaningful exchanges. In the current crowded field, he said it’s difficult to have any meaningful debate at all, calling it a “non-debate debate.”
Biden, who has been attacked most forcefully by Harris, said that he believed “those who made the most direct attacks on one another haven’t really benefited much by it at the end of the day.”
In a barn down a gravel road in Iowa, Joe Biden tore into President Donald Trump’s moral character, declaring in one of the fiercest speeches of his campaign that the words of the American president matter.
The next day, Biden’s own words tripped him up. He told an audience in Des Moines that poor children are “just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” before immediately clarifying his remarks.
The back-to-back episodes magnified the promise and the peril of Biden’s candidacy. Three months after announcing his White House bid, he remains atop early polling for Democratic candidates, buoyed by a long history with voters and a belief among many of them that his decades of experience best position him to defeat Trump. Those attributes appear to have helped the former vice president withstand weeks of attacks on his lengthy record in politics.
But Biden’s rivals remain confident that his fumbles, like the one in Iowa this week, eventually will catch up to him, undermining his electability argument.
“He has been durable,” said David Axelrod, a longtime political strategist for President Barack Obama. “The question is whether that durability is because we aren’t fully geared into the race or whether there are inherent strengths there.”
Biden’s team has been heartened by the consistency of his early polling numbers, despite the push from fellow candidates to cast the 76-year-old as out of step with the Democratic Party on women’s health issues and race. Nearly every survey, both nationally and in the early primary states, shows him leading the crowded primary field, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris following behind but so far unable to find a way to surpass him.
“It’s because people know him. And they don’t know just his name,” said Jack Markell, the former Delaware governor and a Biden supporter. “If it were just name recognition, these polls may look different.”
Biden’s standing in the race is the subject of much debate within the Democratic Party. Advisers to other campaigns contend that polling at this stage of the race is often fluid, reflecting little more than name recognition. Biden aides frequently note that Trump led polls throughout the summer of 2015 and never relinquished the top spot.
What is clear is that some of Biden’s rivals see an imperative to begin taking him on aggressively. Sanders has walloped Biden repeatedly over health care, comparing the former vice president’s opposition to a “Medicare for All” system to Trump. Harris, as well as New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, has hammered Biden over comments he made about working with segregationists during his early years in the Senate.
Biden initially appeared caught off guard by the ferocity of the attacks on his 40-plus-year record in politics, particularly Harris’ blistering critique in the first debate of his past opposition to federally mandated busing to combat segregated schools. Now advisers view that moment as a much needed jolt for the candidate, making clear to Biden that he would need to draw sharper distinctions with his Democratic rivals during the primary and not just focus his fire on Trump.
Since then, Biden has drawn contrasts with more liberal Democrats, like Warren and Sanders, over their proposals to do away with private health insurance and replace it with a government-run system. He’s also vigorously defended Obama, the most popular Democrat in the nation who nevertheless has faced criticism from liberals who believe he didn’t go far enough on health care and was too aggressive in deporting immigrants living illegally in the United States.
″(Biden’s) done a better job since then trying to hug up to Obama as much as possible,” said Jim Hodges, the former Democratic governor of South Carolina, who is yet to endorse a candidate. “That’s his strength here.”
Indeed, Biden’s campaign is eager to focus more on his eight years as vice president than the decades that preceded his time in the White House. Advisers believe his years serving as No. 2 to the nation’s first black president resonate particularly well with African American voters, one of the most powerful segments of the Democratic electorate. Biden also evolved into a beloved elder statesman for many Democrats during those years, particularly after the 2015 death of his son Beau, who succumbed to brain cancer at age 46.
“It just hurts me to see what some people are saying about him,” said Linda Robinson, a retired health care worker who heard Biden speak in Boone, Iowa. Robinson, who caucused for Biden in 2008 but hasn’t decided who has her support this year, called the former vice president a “decent man.”
The attacks from Harris and others have also prompted Biden advisers to encourage the former vice president to step up his campaign activities, including more question-and-answer sessions with voters and reporters, an approach that has been on display during his four-day Iowa swing. But that comes with risk for a freewheeling politician with a history of verbal fumbles.
At the start of the week, Biden got the locations of two back-to-back mass shootings wrong. And on Thursday night, he told voters in Des Moines that poor kids were as bright and talented as white children. He caught the flub and quickly added: “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.”
Defending himself on Saturday, he told a reporter that he “misspoke” and said, “I don’t think anybody thinks that I meant something other than what I said I meant.”
But during the same exchange with reporters, he said he “watched what happened when those kids from Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president.” The shooting at the Florida high school happened in 2018, a year after Biden left office.
The former vice president’s ultimate success in the race will depend in part on whether voters’ warm feelings toward him will help excuse his frequent missteps or see them as a sign that the candidate — who would be the oldest president ever elected — has lost a step.
“He’s always been prone to gaffes. That was true when he was in his 40s, 50s and 60s,” Axelrod said. “The difference is because people are looking for signs of potential deterioration, gaffes that would be written off as Joe being Joe can become much more damaging to him.”
During his Iowa trip, Biden has projected the confidence of a front-runner, rarely mentioning his primary opponents and even sitting in the front row at a state party dinner Friday night, applauding as his rivals spoke ahead of his concluding spot. Earlier in the day, Biden said that while there would be “ups and downs” in the Democratic primary, he expected to emerge victorious.
“It’s a marathon and I’m going to be in it for the whole race,” he said.
Pace reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.