As he fights with those issues, Biden will be trying to achieve another feat: Demonstrate to Americans that age is but a number and he's up to the job. Biden will be declared as the oldest president in the country's history, replacing Ronald Reagan, who left the White House in 1989 when he was 77 years and 349 days old.
The age and health of both Biden and President Donald Trump -- less than four years Biden’s junior — appeared throughout a race that was determined by a younger and more diverse electorate and at a moment when the country is enduring no shortage of issues of consequence.
Out of the gate, Biden will be interested to show he's got the vigor to serve. “It’s crucial that he and his staff put himself in the position early in his presidency where he can express what he wants with a crispness that's not always been his strength," said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University who has advised lawmakers from both parties. “He has got to build up credibility with the American people that he’s physically and mentally up to the job.”
During the campaign, Trump, 74, didn’t miss one opportunity to underline Biden’s gaffes and argue that the Democrat lacked the mental acuity to manage the nation. Both experts and some backers of Biden worried that he was giving the wrong message of his stamina by maintaining a relatively light public schedule while Trump barnstormed battleground states.
Biden blamed his light schedule to be careful throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of Biden’s opponents in the Democratic primary further made a case on age -- while skipping Trump’s vitriol -- by asking the question of whether someone of Biden’s and Trump’s age was the right character to manage a nation dealing with problems like climate change and racial inequality.
Brian Ott, a Missouri State University communications professor who studies presidential rhetoric, explained Biden was hardly convincing as a campaigner but has shown far more effectiveness with his public comments since Election Day.
Ott said Biden's victory speech was poignant, and his compassion showed in a virtual discussion that he held earlier this week with frontline healthcare workers. The president-elect’s knowledge -- a combination of age and nearly 50 years in politics -- conveys more clearly through the prism of governing than the confusion of campaigning, he said.
A September article by a group of researchers in the Journal on Active Aging reported that both Biden and Trump are “super-agers” and are expected to outlive their American contemporaries and keep their health beyond the end of the next presidential term.