U.S. President Donald Trump is questioning the mental sharpness of his November election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, contending he is “not competent to be president.”
Trump, in a barrage of attacks aired in an interview on the “Fox News Sunday” TV show, said, “Biden can't put two sentences together.”
“They wheel him out. He goes up — he repeats — they ask him questions. He reads a teleprompter and then he goes back into his basement,” Trump contended. “You tell me the American people want to have that in an age where we're in trouble with other nations that are looking to do numbers on us?”
The Trump campaign has aired ads that question whether the mental acuity of the 77-year-old Biden, who would be the oldest U.S. president ever if he wins the Nov. 3 election and is inaugurated next January, has diminished as he ages. At 74, Trump is now the oldest.
Biden responded Sunday, saying in a statement that focused on the pandemic, saying "it's long past due for President Trump to listen to somebody other than himself in how to fight this virus, because after six straight months of deadly mismanagement it is spiraling even more out of control.
"Mr. President, your ignorance isn’t a virtue or a sign of your strength — it’s undercutting our response to this unprecedented crisis at every turn," he added.
Fox newsman Chris Wallace, in the interview conducted Friday at the White House, asked the U.S. leader whether he thought Biden was senile.
“I don't want to say that. I'd say he's not competent to be president,” Trump responded. “To be president, you have to be sharp and tough and so many other things. ... Joe doesn't know he's alive, OK? He doesn't know he's alive.”
The Republican president claimed that if his Democratic opponent submitted to the same contentious questioning from Wallace as he was, Biden would end up sitting on the ground saying, “Mommy, mommy, please take me home.”
Trump declared that he would defeat Biden, even as Wallace unveiled a new Fox national poll showing Biden ahead of Trump by a 49-to-41% margin, a finding similar to that of other recent university and news organization polls. A compilation of polls by the Real Clear Politics website shows Biden ahead by an average of 8.6 percentage points.
One poll of registered voters showed that, contrary to Trump’s contention, many think it is Trump who lacks key characteristics to be president, with fewer than half thinking he exhibits the mental soundness (43%), intelligence (42%), and judgment (40%) to serve effectively.
Biden tops Trump on each measure, with 47% expressing confidence in his mental soundness, 51% believing he is intelligent and 52% agreeing that he has the right degree of judgment.
But Trump dismissed the polling as “fake” and said he will win the election “because the country, in the end, they’re not going to have a man who — who’s shot. He’s shot, he’s mentally shot.”
Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results if he loses the election.
"You don’t know until you see. It depends,” he said. He claimed, as he has in recent weeks, that mail-in voting, which Democrats and some Republicans have supported as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, “is going to rig the election.”
“I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose,” he said. “I don’t lose too often. I don’t like to lose.”
Only two U.S. presidents in the last four decades — Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992 have lost re-election bids after a single term in the White House.