Former Vice President Joe Biden said a candidate’s age is a “legitimate” issue in elections — including if he were to run for president in 2020.
“I think age is a totally legitimate thing to raise,” Biden said during a question and answer session at the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan’s Speaker Series Tuesday. “I think it’s totally appropriate for people to look at me and say if I were to run for office again, ‘Well God darn you’re old.’ Well chronologically I am old.”
“Every voter is entitled to know exactly what kind of shape you’re in. You owe it to them. It’s a legitimate question and so I think age is relevant,” he added.
Biden’s comments came in response to a question about whether term limits or a mandatory retirement age should be implemented for members of Congress or the Supreme Court.
Biden is currently 75 years old, and if he runs for president in 2020, he would be 77 when the caucus and primary contests get underway. The potential Democratic field includes other possible contenders who would be in their seventies come 2020 — like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, currently 77 and 69, respectively. They could face off against a crop of younger possible candidates, like Sen. Cory Booker, currently 49, and Sen. Kamala Harris, currently 53.
President Donald Trump is currently 72 years old.
Biden has said he will make a decision about whether to run for president in 2020 by January. During the event, someone in the crowd shouted, “Run, Joe, Run!”
“No, no, no!” Biden said in the same cadence, which prompted laughter from the audience. “Thank you. It’s very flattering.”
Biden then grew emotional talking about his family’s struggle since the death of his son Beau in 2015.
“A lot of you have been through a lot tougher times than I and you know when you lose a son or a daughter. It takes some time for the family to sort of be there. We’re working through it,” he said.
“I know Beau would want me to run, but honest answer is no man or woman should ask for your vote for president unless they with all your heart and soul can look you in the eye and say ‘I promise you all my effort, all my attention, all, all my heart, all of my soul,'” he said. “And I’m not quite sure, I’m not sure quite sure I’m there yet.”
When some shouted “Jill would be great!” referencing Biden’s wife, he responded, “She would! She would! I’d vote for her!”
On the issue of term limits and mandatory retirement age, Biden said, “I think it’s up to the judgment of the people whether or not the person that holds that office in fact has the capacity to hold the office.”
“It may be more relevant for the Supreme Court at the time,” he later said. “The reason being they’re elected for life and there is no — you never get a chance to revisit whether or not they still are the person that you thought should be on that court.”
“If senators or presidents were elected for life, it would be a very different thing about having term limits or mandatory retirement age,” he said.