Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday that the presidency is “not a job for someone pushing 80,” as he tried to contrast his youth with former President Donald Trump, 77, and President Joe Biden, who turns 81 on Monday.
DeSantis, 45, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that “I just think that’s something that’s been shown with Joe Biden. Father Time is undefeated. Donald Trump is not exempt from any of that. ”
Florida’s governor claimed he is in “the prime of my life,” while noting that Trump would be older than Biden was at the beginning of his term if he were to take office in 2025.
Age has quickly become a central theme in the 2024 presidential election. Trump has made mocking Biden and questioning his mental fitness for office a core part of his campaign speeches — even as he has experienced his own gaffes and verbal lapses on the campaign trail.
The Florida governor’s campaign has leaned into this dynamic, launching an “accident tracker” for Trump outbursts last month that highlights apparent verbal blunders, such as when Trump appeared to confuse Biden with former President Barack Obama.
In addition to age, DeSantis said these “accidents” point to Trump not being “the same guy” he was when he first ran for president. Pressed by Tapper on Trump’s mental acuity and his ability to beat Biden in a general election, DeSantis said, “I wouldn’t run unless I thought the Democrats would beat Trump if he was the nominee.”
Democrats, DeSantis said, are “going very easy” on Trump as the Republican primary plays out, but insisted that would change if Trump captures the GOP nomination.
“You’re going to see the scorched earth. You’re going to see all this brought up from the past,” he said. “The whole election is going to end up being a referendum on Donald Trump, and Biden will be able to hang out in the basement , and I think he’ll be able to get away with it again.”
With declining poll numbers, DeSantis has kept a strong pace on the campaign trail. Over the past two days, he has appeared at eight public events, and he continues his swing through Iowa on Sunday. Unlike Biden and Trump, DeSantis often hits campaign events with his wife, Casey, and three young children.
“I want to serve two terms, deliver great results and get the country moving again,” DeSantis said Sunday. “That’s what Republican voters want to see.”