Watch: Biden jokes about ‘turning 60’ on his 81st birthday

Joe Biden joked it was “difficult turning 60” as he marked his 81st birthday with a jibe at US media headlines expressing concerns about his age.

Mr Biden did a quick jog to reach a podium on the south lawn of the White House, where he was presiding over the annual tradition of pardoning two turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving.

Standing at the lectern, he said he was pleased to be pardoning white-feathered Liberty and Bell, calling them “honoured guests”.

“By the way it’s my birthday today,” he said, tripping over his words as he joked that the birds “actually sang birthday to me”. He added with a chuckle: “I just want you to know it’s difficult turning 60.”

President Joe Biden walks out of the White House in Washington, to pardon the national Thanksgiving turkey during a ceremony, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023
Joe Biden did a quick jog to his podium on the White House lawn - Susan Walsh/AP

It follows recent unflattering coverage about Mr Biden’s age and concerns about his mental and physical stamina as he seeks re-election in 2024.

The Wall Street Journal issued an excoriating editorial ahead of the president’s birthday, highlighting his “age and obvious decline” and calling his decision to run again “an act of profound selfishness”.

It came as Donald Trump on Monday appeared to try and show off his “excellent” health by sharing a letter from his doctor.

The Republican frontrunner, 77, posted a picture on Truth Social of a note from his personal physician Dr Bruce Aronwald which describes his cognitive tests as “exceptional”.

In the letter, Dr Aronwald states Mr Trump has lost weight “through an improved diet and continued daily physical activity” and claims “he will continue to enjoy a healthy active lifestyle for years to come”.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden joked about his age as he pardoned the turkeys, saying: “This is the 76th anniversary of this event. I want you to know I wasn’t there for the first one”.

The light-hearted ceremony is traditionally marked with bad jokes and a light roasting by the president, who typically pokes fun at himself in turn.

As he went over to greet one of the turkeys, he joked: “That’s a big bird, man. I’m impressed.” He added: “I hereby pardon Liberty and Bell. Congratulations, birds.”

The national Thanksgiving turkeys, Liberty and Bell, arrive for the pardoning ceremonyny
The national Thanksgiving turkeys, Liberty and Bell, arrive for the pardoning ceremony - Andrew Harnik/AP

The turkeys, which have been spared from ending up as part of a Thanksgiving feast, were named for the historic bell in Philadelphia synonymous with American independence. “These birds have a new appreciation for the words ‘Let freedom ring’,” said Mr Biden.

Liberty and Bell, raised on a farm in Minnesota, were driven to the US capital for the event in their own personal vehicle.

The president said he had been informed the birds were fans of honey crisp apples, ice hockey and the Mall of America – the state’s best-known shopping centre.

He concluded the ceremony on a more serious note, describing the significance of the national Thanksgiving holiday as a time for families to gather together.

He said: “We’ll also think about the loved ones we’ve lost, including just yesterday when we lost former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.