President Joe Biden has traveled more frequently than former President Donald Trump this year, even as Republicans regularly imply the 80-year-old incumbent is homebound as they work to capitalize on voter concerns about his age.
Biden made 60 trips between January and September of this year for White House, personal or political business, according to a HuffPost review of his public schedule. Trump has made 44 trips over the same time period.
For comparison’s sake, former President Barack Obama made 61 trips during the equivalent time period in his presidency, from January 2011 to September 2011.
Despite Biden’s fairly typical presidential travel schedule, Republicans still regularly suggest he is hiding away from the public, often invoking the basement Biden briefly filmed video appearances from during the 2020 campaign, when Democrats decided to sharply limit in-person campaigning during the coronavirus pandemic.
“President Biden needs to get out of Delaware and Washington, D.C., and see the rest of the United States,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said on Fox News on Wednesday, adding: “For heaven’s sake, Biden’s got to get out of the basement.”
“I’m not letting Biden hang out in the basement this time,” Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said onstage during the first GOP presidential debate. “We’re going to run him ragged around this country, and we’re going to hold him accountable.”
Accusing Biden of sticking to his basement ties into larger Republican attacks on Biden’s age and mental acuity, a major line of criticism for the GOP as Biden embarks on his reelection bid in 2024.
The attacks have tapped into real voter concerns. In an Associated Press/NORC poll, released late last month, a full three-quarters of American adults, including majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, said Biden was too old to serve a second term.
What Biden aides have found most frustrating is a lack of equivalent voter and media attention on the age and acuity of the 77-year-old Trump, himself no stranger to verbal slip-ups and strange proclamations. The same survey found 51% of the public thought Trump was too old to serve over the next four years.
There has been a split among Democrats about how to best respond to GOP attacks over Biden’s age, which also tap into voter discontent with Vice President Kamala Harris. Some Democrats would prefer the White House and reelection campaign avoid the battle entirely, while other Biden allies have suggested trying to fight the septuagenarian Trump to a draw on the topic.
While there’s much more to perceptions of each man’s age and abilities than the frequency of their travel, contrasting the travel schedules of Trump and Biden should provide ammunition if Biden chooses the latter route. The president took more total trips than Trump, including international excursions to Mexico and Canada, a historic trip to Poland and Ukraine, and a homecoming of sorts to Ireland and the United Kingdom. This week, Biden is set to travel to India and Vietnam.
Most of his trips were part of official White House travel, with only three trips explicitly for political purposes – one to Baltimore for a conference with House Democrats, one to Philadelphia for a campaign rally with labor unions, the other a quick jaunt to Chevy Chase, Md. for a high-land fundraiser. He mixed political and White House business on ten other trips.
Trump’s schedule, meanwhile, included a journey to Scotland and Ireland to visit two golf courses he owns. Most of his other trips had clear political purposes, including visiting the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, attending state GOP fundraising dinners in North Carolina and Alabama and a conference with Moms For Liberty in Philadelphia.
Five of Trump’s trips, however, had a unique purpose: One was for a deposition in a case brought by the New York attorney general, while four others were for his arraignments on criminal cases in Manhattan, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.