Feb 15, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he purposefully mixes up politicians' names

Donald Trump speaks at a lectern with both hands outstretched. He is wearing a blue suit and red tie. The photo is taken from slightly below and a blue curtain is in the background.

Former President Trump speaks during a rally in South Carolina on Feb. 14. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Trump said Wednesday at a campaign rally that his recent mix-up of other politicians' names was intentional.

Why it matters: Trump, like President Biden, has faced scrutiny about his age and mental acuity, especially among Democrats who seized on the gaffes as another reason he's unfit for a second term.

Context: In a speech last month, Trump switched the names of his GOP primary opponent, Nikki Haley, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

  • Biden's campaign seized on the moment by sharing it on social media, and in a campaign ad.
  • He's mixed up Biden and former President Obama at least seven times in recent months, per Forbes. He said he does so "sarcastically," and referred to a conspiracy theory that Obama is highly influencing the White House.
  • In October, the former president also confused Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.

The other side: Age and mental acuity are a significant concern for many voters when it comes to a second term for Biden.

  • Adding to the woes, special counsel Robert Hur wrote in a report last week that Biden's memory "appeared to have significant limitations."
  • "I'm well meaning, and I'm an elderly man, and I know what the hell I'm doing," Biden said last week in defense of the assertions in the report.
  • House Republicans are planning long-term hearings and possibly subpoenas related to Biden's mental state.

Zoom out: Voters are more concerned with Biden's age than Trump's.

  • Voters are more concerned over whether Trump is "corrupt, criminal, crooked," according to an AP-NORC poll from August 2023.
  • Biden is already the oldest sitting president. He would be 86 and Trump would be 86 and 82, respectively, at the end of a second term.

Go deeper: Trump leads with Metro Detroit swing voters who say Biden's too old

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