One of Gov. Ned Lamont's favorite scenes from a campaign kickoff video: Joe Biden's focus on infrastructure spending. BIDEN VIDEO

The reelection campaign of President Joe Biden got underway in Connecticut on Tuesday with an immediate off-message reference by Gov. Ned Lamont to Biden’s status as the oldest man to serve as president. 

“I just got off of a teleconference with the president and a few of our fellow governors,” Lamont told reporters in Hartford. “And I had the opportunity to say he’s gotten more done for this country and for our state in two years than any of those young whippersnappers who want his job.”

Biden, who would accept the Democratic nomination next summer as an 81-year-old and, if reelected, depart the White House in January 2029 at the age of 86, declared his candidacy with a fast-paced, three-minute video that opened with an image of tear-gas wafting by the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The shot was an oblique reference to Donald J. Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination who refused to admit his defeat in 2020 and promotes a fantasy that Biden won by fraud, a notion repeatedly discredited by Trump’s own inner circle, Republican recounts and court proceedings.

Trump, now 76, was America’s oldest president when inaugurated at age 70, surpassing Ronald Reagan, who took office at 69. If elected in 2024, Trump would turn 82 in the White House.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll completed Monday found that two-thirds of Americans think neither man should run, and about half of Democrats think their standard bearer is too old for a second term.

Biden’s reelection video touched on the U.S. Supreme Court’s unpopular overturning of Roe v. Wade, the product of a conservative majority assembled during Trump’s first term, and one of Lamont’s favorite topics: the infrastructure spending promised by Trump and delivered by Biden.

“Look what he’s done. Look what’s happened in the last two years. Look at the energy he’s shown getting legislation passed at a time we thought Washington was just hopelessly gridlocked,” Lamont said. “Look what’s got done on a bipartisan basis — that infrastructure bill, getting people back to work fixing our roads and bridges. I think it’s important.”

Lamont was the first governor to endorse Biden four years ago, when the president carried Connecticut by 20 points. Lamont was reelected last year by 13 points, and recent polling showed him as one of the most popular Democratic governors in the U.S.

Biden is struggling.

Fever lines showing Biden’s falling approval and rising disapproval ratings crossed in the third week of August 2021 when composite polling showed America equally divided on his performance. A majority of Americans disapprove of Biden and see America going in the wrong direction.

As he did four years ago, Biden says the “soul of America” is at stake. Lamont said that message should resonate even louder, given Trump’s efforts to undermine America’s confidence in elections and his party’s assault on reproductive rights.

“I think it’s a clear red line between President Biden’s presidency and whoever comes across,” Lamont said. “The other party is going to severely limit or even outlaw woman’s right to choose. You know, it’s going to be the opposite with President Biden defending a woman’s rights.”

Lamont said Biden has a story to tell, especially when compared to his predecessor.

“Think of where this where this country was. say, four years ago: Jan. 6, gridlock, unraveling our alliances around the world,” Lamont said. “I think that people taking a second look are going to rally behind the president of the United States.”

Lamont said that attracted him to Biden four years ago.

“I think he brings people together. That’s what I liked about him, as a senator and as a vice president. He worked with people,” Lamont said. “You know, we were  coming out of a presidency with President Trump, where the divisions were harsh and coarse and tearing us apart as a country. So more than anything else, ordinary politics or policy, I liked the fact that he was the man who was decent, with integrity, who I thought was going to bring the country together.”

The governor questioned whether any president could command high approval ratings given the polarization of American politics.

“You watch your TV network, I watch my TV network,” Lamont said. “It’s not just that we disagree on policies, a lot of people disagree on the basic facts. And I think that makes it a little more tough to govern. And I think given those complications, the president has done pretty darn well.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.