Donald Trump faces far less criticism for his advanced age, verbal flubs, and mental lapses than Joe Biden because it blends in with his persona, experts argue.
Biden, 81, has spent the past days under siege from Republicans and the press after a special counsel report raised alarm about his mental ability.
The report didn’t recommended charges for Biden potentially holding on to classified documents in part because a jury would see him as ‘a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory’.
The president held a press conference on Thursday to dispute the report, but made matters worse by confusing Mexico and Egypt.
Trump, 77, has his own long his of gaffes that should alarm his supporters, including confusing the names of people, places, and appearing physically frail.
Donald Trump has taken to dancing on stage during his rallies, which combined with his bombastic persona and looking younger through fake tan and hair dye, helps him avoid criticism for his many gaffes
US Vice President Joe Biden trips as he walks onto stage to deliver a speech at the Paddington Town Hall in Sydney on July 20, 2016
But instead of denting his appeal, they appear to enhance it, or at least be ignored, as very few of his supporters say his age concerns them.
Experts believe Trump’s flamboyant stage presence at his rallies and speeches while he was president helps disguise these as all part of the show.
He regularly mocks Biden’s age and alleged frailty with hyperbolic caricatures and even dances as he takes the stage to bombastic music.
Trump is also a far more imposing figure than Biden, standing – he says – at 6ft 3 inches and keeping himself looking comparatively youthful by dying his hair and lathering on fake tan.
Carol Kinsey Goman, a speaker and leadership coach, said gaffes look like ‘weakness’ when Biden commits them, but Trump regularly gets away with it.
‘When Trump makes those kinds of faux pas, he just brushes it off, and people don’t say, ‘Oh, he’s aging’,’ she told the New York Times.
‘He makes at least as many mistakes as Joe Biden, but because he does it with this bravado, it doesn’t seem like senility. It seems like passion.’
A recent Siena College poll poll of six swing states found 70 per cent of voters were concerned about Biden’s age – but less than half about Trump’s.
Other Democrats have noticed the same double-standard, including Congressman Mark Pocan from Wisconsin, who admitted it concerned him.
‘Even though we know both candidates are three and a half years apart, one side seems to have it sticking a little more, and that’s going to be a concern,’ he said.
‘Donald Trump is more of an entertainer than a politician in many ways. And I think there’s just a different set of expectations and that’s why he gets away with it.’
Political commentator Larry Sabato last year made similar observations, saying Trump’s base wasn’t listening to any criticism of him.
‘They don’t care even if they think it’s accurate, but it is important. Maybe the press reports should be more balanced,’ he said.
‘When President Biden’s age and questions about his so-called mental acuity or race may be the very same thing should be mentioned for Donald Trump.
‘I think that would be fair. And I’ve got to say, Jim, I just hope President Putin’s feelings weren’t hurt by the good things that Trump said about Orban. You know, I hope he’s not switching dictators here.’
Trump has on several occasions mistakenly referred to former president Barack Obama when he meant Biden or Hilary Clinton.
‘With Obama, we won an election they said couldn’t be won,’ he said said of his 2016 election victory, which was actually over Clinton.
He also said the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, called on ‘President Obama’ to resign and be ‘replaced by Trump’.
‘The head of Hungary Viktor Orban, very powerful within his country and outside of his country, they were interviewing him two weeks ago and said what would advise President Obama?’ he said.
The whole world seems to be exploding and imploding. He said “It’s very simple, he should immediately resign and replace him with President Trump who kept the world safe.”‘
He also mistakenly called Orban the ‘leader of Turkey’.
A month earlier in Iowa, he greeted his audience in Sioux City as ‘Sioux Falls,’ which is actually a city in South Dakota.
‘I go around saying of course we’re going to win Iowa. My people said you cannot assume that,’ Trump told his audience in the ornate Orpheum Theater in Sioux City, Iowa.
Another speech had Trump say North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was in charge of a country of 1.4 billion people.