The Joe Biden Whispering Campaign
Author: Greg Valliere
March 5, 2020
A SOURCE OF CONCERN: Joe Biden’s stunning ascent in the past week seemingly has him on a path to the Democrats’ nomination — but there’s a serious issue that must be confronted: his mental acuity.
WE’VE BEEN RELUCTANT TO WRITE ABOUT THIS, because it’s a delicate issue, but we increasingly get questions as a whispering campaign intensifies, and Republicans are taking their cues from Donald Trump, who has bluntly questioned Biden’s mental fitness. We had thought this issue would be just below the surface in the campaign, but now it’s about to get an airing and will be very much in the limelight.
WE’VE MET BIDEN FREQUENTLY, starting 40 years ago, when he was a dynamic young Senator, outgoing and gregarious. But we’ve seen a different Biden in recent debates. He’s had a lifelong affliction with stuttering, no crime in that, but he clearly has slowed down and, ominously, Biden frequently struggles to find right the words.
CAREFUL SCRUTINY: Biden will have only one or two challengers in the next debate, scheduled for March 15 in Arizona, so his performance will be closely scrutinized. To be blunt, a Biden stumble is about the best hope left for the Bernie Sanders campaign (although Sanders will make trade treaties a major issue heading into next Tuesday’s primary in Michigan, where he won four years ago).
THE HEALTH OF CANDIDATES IS A MAJOR WILD CARD because most of them are so old. Sanders, 78, suffered a heart attack last fall. Trump, 73, is obese and loathes exercise. But Biden, 77, is in a different category, as incidents of confusion raise concerns. It’s one thing to forget someone’s name; it’s another thing to forget what city you’re in or what office you’re running for.
WE’VE TALKED WITH MANY DEMOCRATS in this town who share concerns about Biden’s health; “he’s not the same Joe,” they say, often pointing to the vacant look in his eyes. For now, they’re desperate to avoid an election debacle with a socialist heading the ticket. The party’s establishment is willing to take a risk on Biden, but they’re nervous about the March 15 debate.
WE’RE OBVIOUSLY NOT QUALIFIED TO ASSESS BIDEN MEDICALLY, but we do know that Donald Trump, a ruthless campaigner, has found Biden’s weak point, and the president has fodder — a hit job on Biden in this morning’s New York Post. This issue is out of the closet.
HEALTH ISSUES LIKE THIS HAVE HAPPENED BEFORE, most recently in 1988, in Ronald Reagan’s last full year as president, when he began to show signs of the dementia that eventually killed him. It’s a horrible disease — we’ve seen it up close — that allows its victims to have good days amid the gradual decline. Biden could sail through the campaign, or he could have increasingly foggy days.
FOR NOW, WE’LL JUST CONCLUDE that this is about to become an issue; Fox isn’t shy about raising it, and neither is Trump. Along with the coronavirus, Biden’s mental health is the great wild card in the upcoming campaign, a topic that has to be addressed.
The views expressed in this blog are provided as a general source of information based on information available as of the date of publication and should not be considered as personal investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy and/or sell securities. Speculation or stated believes about future events, such as market or economic conditions, company or security performance, or other projections represent the beliefs of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of AGF, its subsidiaries or any of its affiliated companies, funds or investment strategies. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in these commentaries at the time of publication; however, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Market conditions may change and AGF accepts no responsibility for individual investment decisions arising from the use of or reliance on the information contained herein. Any financial projections are based on the opinions of the author and should not be considered as a forecast. The forward looking statements and opinions may be affected by changing economic circumstances and are subject to a number of uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in the forward looking statements. The information contained in this commentary is designed to provide you with general information related to the political and economic environment in the United States. It is not intended to be comprehensive investment advice applicable to the circumstances of the individual.
AGF Investments is a group of wholly owned subsidiaries of AGF Management Limited, a Canadian reporting issuer. The subsidiaries included in AGF Investments are AGF Investments Inc. (AGFI), AGF Investments America Inc. (AGFA), AGF Asset Management (Asia) Limited (AGF AM Asia) and AGF International Advisors Company Limited (AGFIA). AGFA is a registered advisor in the U.S. AGFI is registered as a portfolio managers across Canadian securities commissions. AGFIA is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and registered with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. AGF AM Asia is registered as a portfolio manager in Singapore. The subsidiaries that form AGF Investments manage a variety of mandates comprised of equity, fixed income and balanced assets.
About AGF Management Limited
Founded in 1957, AGF Management Limited (AGF) is an independent and globally diverse asset management firm. AGF brings a disciplined approach to delivering excellence in investment management through its fundamental, quantitative, alternative and high-net-worth businesses focused on providing an exceptional client experience. AGF’s suite of investment solutions extends globally to a wide range of clients, from financial advisors and individual investors to institutional investors including pension plans, corporate plans, sovereign wealth funds and endowments and foundations.
For further information, please visit AGF.com.
© 2020 AGF Management Limited. All rights reserved.