Republicans trafficked in the theory that President Joe Biden wouldn’t be up for the job during the campaign, and even weeks into the Biden presidency, the narrative persists.
In the opening segment of his show on Fox News Monday, host Sean Hannity cornered Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, asking the second-term Florida Republican to comment on how “weak and frail” and “struggling cognitively” that Biden seemed.
“I don’t know,” Rubio said. “I don’t see him every day so I can’t judge where he is and what’s going on. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”
The Senator then pivoted to talking points, including expressing his “hope we can get all those vaccines to people,” revulsion at the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, praise for Florida’s senior-centered vaccine rollout, and dismay over Biden executive orders on immigration issues.
But for veteran watchers of the Rubio/Biden dynamic, the interesting play was Rubio not closing the door on speculation about Biden’s mental state. The Senator, who “can’t judge where [Biden] is” currently, had no issue trafficking claims during the Presidential campaign that Biden was slipping mentally.
In June, the Senator (again on Fox News) suggested than the then pre-nomination Biden may have “severe memory loss.”
The comments came toward the end of a segment, in which Rubio cast doubt at Biden’s assertions that he couldn’t remember if he had anything to do with action during the Barack Obama administration against former Gen. Michael Flynn, a Donald Trump ally and asset.
“I think ultimately, if all this proves to be true, then there’s really only two things to conclude from it. Either A, he’s suffering from severe memory loss, or B, he’s not being honest, he’s lying. So, we’ll find out soon enough when the Judiciary Committee does its investigation right in front of the American people.”
“What that applies to beyond that, we’ll find out during the campaign,” the Senator added, noting at the time that he was “not a doctor,” and therefore “not going to make claims like people in the press did.”
In addition to playing along with assertions that Biden has slipped mentally, Rubio also spent much of the campaign depicting Biden as diminished and weak.
Rubio wondered in August, regarding Biden, “is he strong enough” to deal with “elements in the party” working to “push him farther left than he’s ever been before?”
Rubio expressed “very serious doubts about strength in the White House.”
Ultimately, Biden’s “severe memory loss” or “strength” did not determine the outcome of the Presidential campaign. Biden acquitted himself well in debates with former President Trump, whose actions ultimately proved to be a bigger concern to Americans who voted for the Democrat in historic numbers.
But for Republicans, the talking point is still live, and even powerful U.S. Senators will be compelled to reckon with it, especially from friendly media.
This article first appeared at Florida Politics.
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