Jill Biden says Trump attacks over husband Joe Biden's mental faculties are 'ridiculous'

Ben Riley-Smith
·3 min read
Jill Biden, left, with her husband Joe Biden after speaking at the Democratic national convention - AFP via Getty Images
Jill Biden, left, with her husband Joe Biden after speaking at the Democratic national convention - AFP via Getty Images

Jill Biden has dismissed as “ridiculous” suggestions that her husband Joe Biden, 77, is less sharp-minded than he was in the past as the Donald Trump campaign released an advert attacking his mental faculty.

Mr Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, would be the oldest person ever elected to the US presidency if he wins in November and has faced relentless questions from his political opponents about his mental acuity given his age.

Mrs Biden starred in the second night of the Democratic convention on Tuesday, giving the closing address and being featured in a short film about her life, and then did a round of TV interviews on Wednesday morning.

Asked in one about Trump campaign claims that her husband has “lost a step or two in the last few years” and whether that was a fair issue to raise in an election race, Mrs Biden said: “No, it’s ridiculous.”  

She went on: “I mean, Joe’s on the phone every single minute of the day talking to governors who are calling him and Nancy Pelosi [the House of Representatives speaker], he’s on the Zoom, he’s doing fundraisers. He’s doing briefings. I mean he doesn’t stop from nine in the morning to eleven at night.”

Mrs Biden gave a similar response when asked about the nicknames which Mr Trump has used for Mr Biden, including “Sleepy Joe” and “Creepy Joe”. She called them “ridiculous”.

The new attack advert from the Trump campaign, released this week to coincide with the Democratic convention, takes aim at Mr Biden’s mental abilities.

It compares clips from 2015 and 2016 of Mr Biden speaking energetically and fluidly to footage from more recently of him stumbling and tripping over his words, asking: “What happened to Joe Biden?”

The tone of the attacks has drawn criticism from some commentators. Biden advisers have argued some of the moments he stalls in speech are due to a stutter which he had as a child.

The row emerged the day after Mrs Biden had spoken about how Mr Biden got over the death of his first wife and one-year-old daughter in a car crash in 1972. She married Mr Biden when his two sons, both injured in the crash, were still young.

“How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding - and with small acts of kindness. With bravery. With unwavering faith,” Mrs Biden said, linking her husband’s personal story to his presidential ambitions.

Bill Clinton, the former US president, also spoke on Tuesday night, accusing Mr Trump of tending to “blame, bully, and belittle” and fiercely criticising his handling of the pandemic.

“At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command centre. Instead, it’s a storm centre. There’s only chaos," Mr Clinton said.

"Just one thing never changes - his determination to deny responsibility and shift the blame. The buck never stops there."

Mr Biden was formally adopted as the party’s 2020 presidential nominee on Tuesday, some 32 years after his first run for the White House.

At the final tally Mr Biden got 3,558 delegates and Bernie Sanders, the left-wing senator from Vermont, was on 1,151 delegates - though in reality the race effectively ended back in April when Mr Sanders pulled out.

Mr Biden appeared on screen alongside his wife Jill and grandchildren surrounded by balloons as he was confirmed as the nominee. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said.

Also, in a surprise addition to the schedule, Colin Powell, the Republican former secretary of state to George W Bush, gave a speech endorsing Mr Biden

. “Joe Biden will be a president we will all be proud to salute. With Joe Biden in the White House, you will never doubt that he will stand with our friends and stand up to our adversaries - never the other way around,” Mr Powell said.