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What President Biden needs to say about his age and Trump in his State of the Union address

Grappling with negative approval ratings and trailing former President Trump in the latest polling average of their general election rematch, President Biden has a golden opportunity to try and turn the narrative around with eight months to go until the November showdown.

That high-stakes primetime moment comes Thursday evening, when the president will deliver a greatly anticipated and closely watched State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.

‘It’s going to be a moment that’s incredibly important to him,’ White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday. ‘He’s looking forward to … talking about the accomplishments that he’s made the last three years and also the vision that he has for this country.’

With it far from certain that the president and Trump will face off in general election debates in the autumn, the speech may deliver Biden his largest national audience between now and the November election.

It’s not clear whether Biden will directly mention his Republican challenger in an address that will be repeatedly edited and fine-tuned until the moment the president arrives on Capitol Hill.

But Biden re-election campaign communications director Michael Tyler, pointing to the rematch with Trump, emphasized Tuesday that ‘I think the State of the Union Address is going to serve as another moment to further cement the choice in this election for the American electorate writ large.’

At 81, Biden is the oldest president in the nation’s history. And polls indicate a majority of Americans harbor serious questions about his physical and mental ability to handle another four years in the White House.

Longtime Republican strategist Colin Reed, pointing to ‘a series of misguided decisions,’ including ‘the decision [by the president] not to conduct a Super Bowl interview when you’ve got the largest built-in audience you’re ever going to get, the pressure is mounting on President Biden to demonstrate that voters’ concerns about his age are somehow not as bad as people think.

‘The stakes are high going into a speech which normally washes out in the next day’s news cycle,’ Reed emphasized. ‘But because people view President Biden as this creaky, rickety, frail human being and voters have deep concerns and reservations (about his ability) to perform the job, this event has taken on heightened importance that otherwise would not exist.’

Reed is a presidential campaign veteran who most recently was a top adviser to a super PAC supporting former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 2024 nomination challenge against Trump.

‘My suspicion is [Biden] will take it on because he can’t avoid it,’ Reed said. ‘It’s become the overriding factor in the conversation.’

Asked what the president needs to say in his speech regarding concerns about his age, veteran Democratic consultant Maria Cardona told Fox News Biden ‘does need to do it in a way that unequivocally transmits a dynamic and robust vibe.’

‘He has to vibe that age is not an issue. He has to vibe that he might not be young in years but is young at heart and importantly young and modern in ideas and vision for the future,’ added Cardona, a Democratic National Committee member who did tours of duty on multiple presidential campaigns.

She added that Biden needs to make the point that the ‘American electorate will be better off with him because of his wisdom, because of his experience, because of his understanding of what’s at stake than the other guy, who is a dangerous, existential threat not just to our democracy but to our rights and freedoms.’

While Biden will paint contrasts with his GOP challenger, Cardona said, ‘I suspect that he’s not going to mention Trump by name, because I think that will give Trump too much importance.’

‘But there’s no question Trump will be in the room,’ she emphasized. ‘And, more importantly, Trump’s past policies and future intentions will be in the room as well as President Biden will make it clear without a shadow of a doubt this is who he’s running against.’

Reed agreed that Biden will spotlight Trump, even if he doesn’t mention his name.

‘If this election is about Joe Biden, that’s bad news for Joe Biden,’ Reed said. ‘If this election’s about Donald Trump, that’s Biden’s only path forward. …. [Biden] has to lay out clear contrasts with what he’s proposing and wants to do and what his opponent does.’

Plenty of top Trump supporters who are Republican members of Congress will be in the audience as the president gives his address. And there’s the chance Biden will be interrupted, as he was a handful of times when he delivered last year’s speech.

Democratic strategist and communicator Chris Moyer said that ‘more important than what [Biden] says is how he comes across. Will he be sharp and mixing it up like he did with Republicans during last year’s State of the Union? A repeat performance would be a home run for him and his campaign.’

‘Most voters will remember how they felt watching him, not necessarily the specific agenda items he shares. That’s what will stick,’ emphasized Moyer, who’s served on a handful of Democratic presidential campaigns.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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