‘It’s about how old your ideas are,’ says Biden in Seth Meyers interview

US president addresses concerns about his age during late night talk show appearance

President Joe Biden has come up with a new defence against claims that he is too old to run for another term: At least he knows who his wife is – as opposed to “the other guy”.

As he expands his efforts to reassure voters that he is fit for another four years, Biden took a turn on the talk show circuit, using an appearance on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on NBC to poke his challenger, former president Donald Trump, on his struggles with memory.

In a playful but pointed interview aired early Tuesday morning, Meyers sought to help the president address the age issue, which polls show is an important drawback in the minds of most voters. Meyers jokingly told the president that he had obtained classified information indicating that “you are currently 81 years old”.

Look, this is a guy who wants to take us back. He wants to take us back on Roe v. Wade. He wants to take us back on a whole range of issues that are – 50 to 60 years, they’ve been solid American positions

Biden went along with the joke. “Who the hell told you that?” he asked. “That’s classified!”


He then went on to jab Trump, who is 77, over a video in which he seems to call his wife, Melania Trump, by another name. “You got to take the other guy,” Biden said. “He’s about as old as I am, but he can’t remember his wife’s name.”

Turning more serious, Biden added that the contest is not about how old the candidates are. “It’s about how old your ideas are,” he said. “Look, this is a guy who wants to take us back. He wants to take us back on Roe v Wade. He wants to take us back on a whole range of issues that are – 50 to 60 years, they’ve been solid American positions.”

The president has been on the defensive about his memory in recent weeks, particularly since a special counsel, in a report on Biden’s handling of classified documents, explained that one reason he would not charge Biden is because he would come across to a jury as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory”. During his interview with the special counsel, the report said, Biden could not remember key dates of his vice presidency or the year his son Beau died. Biden’s defenders assailed the special counsel for mentioning that.

Trump has had plenty of moments of confusion in recent weeks as well. Among other things, he has mixed up his Republican opponent Nikki Haley with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, claimed to have beaten Barack Obama in 2016 rather than Hillary Clinton and warned that the country is on the verge of the second World War.

The moment Biden was referring to came during a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland over the weekend when Trump was praising his wife and then, as the audience applauded, said, “Oh, look at that, Mercedes – that’s pretty good”.

Meyers played that clip before Biden came out on the show, mocking Trump for seeming to have forgotten Melania Trump’s name. But Trump was addressing Mercedes Schlapp, a former White House adviser whose husband, Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union, hosts the conference, according to the former president’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung. “The clips were taken out of context by disingenuous people,” Cheung said.

Still, Donald Trump has in the past misspelt Melania’s name on Twitter as “Melanie”. And during a deposition in the defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll, Trump mistakenly identified a picture of Carroll as Marla Maples, his second wife. A jury found that Trump sexually abused Carroll in the 1990s, and a separate jury ordered him to pay $83.3 million for defaming her.

Biden joined Meyers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the late-night show, a decade after appearing on the program’s debut episode in 2014 when he was vice-president. It was Biden’s fourth appearance on a late-night talk show since becoming president. He was a guest of Jimmy Fallon in 2021, of Jimmy Kimmel in 2022 and on “The Daily Show” in 2023.

The audience was an important one for Biden, who relied on strong support among younger voters to defeat Trump in 2020 and needs them again despite surveys showing disenchantment among that generation. But he slipped when asked about his 2024 agenda. “The 2020 agenda is to finish the job,” he said.

Meyers asked the president about the “Dark Brandon” meme that his younger aides have promoted online, a laser-eyed version of the president intended to make him seem cool and hip. Asked if he enjoys the meme, Biden quipped, “No, I resent the hell out of it”, and then put on Ray-Ban sunglasses.

When Meyers noted that many on the political right have embraced a bizarre conspiracy theory that he and Taylor Swift “are working in cahoots,” Biden playfully snapped: “Where are you getting this information? It’s classified. That’s classified information.”

“But,” he quickly added, “I will tell you she endorsed me in 2020”.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.