On Sunday, President Joe Biden visited naval installations in Virginia, and he was presented with a birthday cake a day before his 81st birthday.
However, Biden has been keeping his birthday under wraps amid voters’ concerns about his age. According to the White House, Biden is celebrating his birthday with family in Nantucket, Massachusetts — a remote, island getaway.
All the while, some White House staffers have been pushing Biden to take fewer international trips and to spend more time in private, according to Sunday’s bombshell report from The New York Times.
They call it the “Bubble Wrap” strategy.
Political analyst John B. Judis explained Operation Bubble Wrap to the Times. He recalled last year’s viral video of Biden falling off his bicycle in Delaware.
“I think a lot of voters, and young people in particular, who are not at all put off by his political positions or accomplishments, are put off by his utter failure as a regal persona,” Judis said. “And I don’t know how that can be fixed. Not by bicycling.”
In August’s AP-NORC poll, fully 77% of U.S. adults saw Biden as too old to be effective for four more years. Not only do 89% of Republicans say that, so do 69% of Democrats. That view is held across age groups, not just by young people. However, older Democrats specifically are more supportive of his 2024 bid.
Take a look at the video of the bicycle —
Here’s another video angle of Joe Biden falling off a stationary bike. Why in the world are they still letting him bike? pic.twitter.com/g4DTSCBzD3— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) June 18, 2022
KJP says Biden will celebrate his 81st birthday with coconut cake in Nantucket: pic.twitter.com/wsIy1jzxyW— Conservative War Machine (@WarMachineRR) November 20, 2023
Not all White House staffers support Operation Bubble Wrap.
Some are worried about the strategy’s potential to backfire. Presumably, they don’t want to face accusations of sheltering Biden from the press.
“The reality is when voters see — like they did in the Oval Office speech recently — President Biden being a strong, compelling leader, who can legitimately string sentences together and isn’t the Fox News caricature that Donald Trump would like people to believe, it makes them realize that they’ve been lied to and it makes them open their eyes,” Democrat strategist Josh Schwerin told the Associated Press.
In fact, some strategists want Biden to brag about his age, instead of becoming defensive about it.
“He’s been successful because of his age, not in spite of it,” said Democrat strategist Simon Rosenberg. “We’re all going to have to make that case because it’s true. We can’t run away from the age issue. It’s going to be a major part of the conversation, but we would be making a political mistake if we don’t contest it more aggressively.”
White House spokesperson Ben La Bolt released a statement about Biden’s “decades of experience in public service and deep relationships with leaders in Congress,” but he declined to mention the president’s age.
More specifically, other Democrats have publicly told Biden to stop hiding his birthday.
“[There’s] nothing anyone, even a president, can do to avoid having a birthday,” Democrat strategist Margie Omero told national media.