Last year, the White House scheduled a Biden family wedding to deflect press attention from the president’s milestone 80th birthday – not entirely successfully.
American media took the opportunity to note that Joe Biden’s 1942 birth came before the death of Hitler, the dropping of the atomic bomb or even the use of microwaves. Barack Obama and Kamala Harris were still children when Mr Biden won his first senate race in 1972.
This year, the White House is expected to largely ignore Mr Biden’s birthday all together, and hope the rest of America does too.
Instead the focus will be on Liberty and Bell, the two Thanksgiving turkeys due to be pardoned at the White House on Monday in what has become an annual tradition.
The event comes as Mr Biden’s approval rating has plunged to a historic low of 40 per cent, the lowest of his presidency, with voters spooked by his age and increasingly riled by his handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
Frank Luntz, one of America’s best known pollsters, who has known Mr Biden for years and worked with his administration, believes the president is “prepared to ignore the polls”.
Mr Luntz believes White House aides will deploy what is known as “the rose garden strategy” for the 2024 campaign – essentially maximising the power of the Oval office to get media coverage rather than “travelling the country”.
Meanwhile, officials appear to be going to considerable lengths to mitigate the effects of the gruelling job on a man now in his ninth decade.
Part of this involves the president’s team carefully managing his schedule, with most of his public appearances occurring between midday and 4pm, according to an analysis by US media.
Mr Biden spends most weekends either in his Delaware beach house or at Camp David, the presidential country retreat.
According to the Washington Examiner, Mr Biden has spent around 40 per cent of his days away from the White House, leading the newspaper to brand him the “vacationer in chief”.
During gruelling overseas trips, Mr Biden has sometimes opted to skip dinners at international gatherings and pass up the opportunity to engage in some soft diplomacy with other world leaders.
He skipped dinner at the G20 summit in Indonesia last year, and again at a summit in Japan in May.
He also opted against dining with fellow Nato leaders at a summer summit in Vilnius, which the president’s aides candidly admitted was down to his busy schedule, and the need to prepare for a speech the following day.
Mr Biden’s aides carefully stagecraft his public appearances.
The president is often given a hand-held mic to hold close to his mouth for speeches – even when standing at a lectern fitted with a mic – to amplify his voice, which has become noticeably softer with age.
Allies have pointed out Mr Biden is not the only president to rely on crib sheets. Donald Trump was photographed holding cue cards on numerous occasions, including one prompting him to say “I hear you” when meeting gun violence survivors.
Shielded from the press
The most noticeable difference between Mr Biden and his recent predecessors is how little he is prepared to engage with the media.
Mr Biden’s verbal missteps have been a hallmark of his long political career – as well as the difficulties of his childhood stutter, he is a self-proclaimed “gaffe machine”.
But his gaffes have come to highlight concerns about the president’s age, and the White House have imposed strict guardrails on his media interactions.
He has given far fewer interviews than Mr Trump or Barack Obama, declining traditional primetime TV appearances, such as the Super Bowl, and given no interviews at all to a major US newspaper.
His solo press conference following his meeting with Xi Jinping in San Francisco last week was only his third this year and he took just four questions from pre-selected reporters.
Vigorous exercise regime
The president has been given a detailed daily exercise regime, regularly sees a personal trainer as well as a physiotherapist to improve his balance and try to reduce his public falls.
During the week, he reportedly wakes at about 7am and starts his day with a workout – either weight lifting or using his Peloton bike in the White House. He reads most of the major US papers in detail before arriving at the Oval Office by 9am.
Jill Biden, the First Lady, has also reportedly been taking steps to boost Mr Biden’s diet with fish and vegetables to keep him fit as he prepares for a tough re-election campaign.
Sleep apnea machine
Earlier this year, the White House revealed that Mr Biden sleeps with an air mask to treat sleep apnea after photographers captured the indentations made by the device on Mr Biden’s face.
Aides said the marks were caused by a CPAP machine, a motorised medical device which prevents interruptions in breathing during the night.
The sleep disorder can be potentially serious, and age is one of several factors that increases the associated risks of sleep apnea. It can leave sufferers feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep.
Officials say Mr Biden recently began using a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine to improve the quality of his sleep.
Mr Biden has also been photographed wearing trainers more often and increasingly uses shorter steps to board Air Force One after numerous trips while ascending the plane.
The more traditional exit and entry point at the front of the plane requires a set of 26-odd steps that are transported to the plane door by a truck and can often be wobbly.
Eagle-eyed White House reporters noticed Mr Biden has been using a staircase that folds into Air Force One and is closer to the tarmac, with roughly 14 steps, more often.
The White House has publicly refuted claims that the change is due to mobility concerns.
Despite the White House’s best efforts, and Mr Biden’s determination, even prominent Democrats have questioned whether the president should cede to a new generation of candidates.
Mr Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, recently publicly called on Mr Biden to weigh his decision carefully. The president reportedly reacted by calling Mr Axelrod a “prick”.
Andrew Yang, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2020, noted recent polls suggest the president “is now an underdog” against Mr Trump for 2024.
But claims Mr Biden can “turn it around”, he argued, “ignore the obvious – it’s tough for an 81-year-old candidate to rev up a campaign”. “Maybe another candidate would be a better bet,” said Mr Yang.
Mr Luntz, who is a Republican but has informally advised the Biden White House, said he expects the administration to focus on portraying the president “as engaged and involved as they can” with White House action shots – but at a remove from the public.
“It’s all a strategy to show Biden at his best and to accept his limitations,” Mr Luntz said. With Donald Trump facing 91 criminal counts and still polling ahead, he is unsure it will work.
And yet, Mr Luntz said, Mr Biden “appears committed” to seeking re-election. “I thought he was going to pull out, so I’ve now learned to take him at his word,” he said.