Biden delivers election-year roasting for Trump but ignores anti-war protesters outside

US

US President Joe Biden has delivered an election-year roasting of his rival Donald Trump, criticising his immaturity.

Speaking at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night, the 81-year-old responded to concerns that he is too old for a second presidential term.

“Yes, age is an issue – I’m a grown man running against a six-year-old,” he said, referring to his 77-year-old Republican opponent.

But in a more serious moment, the president told the gathered reporters: “I’m sincerely not asking you to take sides.

“I’m asking you to rise up to the seriousness of the moment.

“Move past the horse race numbers and the gotcha moments and the distractions, the sideshows that have come to dominate and sensationalise our politics, and focus on what’s actually at stake.”

Mr Biden did not acknowledge the hundreds of demonstrators standing outside the event calling for an end to US support of Israel.

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Earlier, he had arrived at the venue through a back entrance, avoiding most of the protesters.

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Pic: Reuters

Outside the main entrance, some shouted “Shame on you!”, running after well-dressed attendees as they hurried inside for the dinner.

Some chanted accusations that US journalists are not paying enough attention to the war and are misrepresenting it, shouting: “Western media, we see you and all the horrors that you hide”.

They were not alone – more than two dozen journalists in Gaza wrote a letter last week calling on their US-based colleagues to boycott the dinner.

The letter said: “The toll exacted on us for merely fulfilling our journalistic duties is staggering.

“We are subjected to detentions, interrogations and torture by the Israeli military – all for the ‘crime’ of journalistic integrity.”

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Israel declared war on Hamas and launched an air and ground offensive in Gaza in response to the attack on southern Israel on 7 October, when Hamas killed about 1,200 people in Israel and took another 250 hostages.

More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have sought refuge in Rafah, where Israel has conducted near-daily raids as it prepares for a possible offensive in the city.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed during the Israel-Hamas war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

At the beginning of April, Reporters Without Borders said more than 105 journalists had been killed in the area since 7 October, with at least 22 of them killed in the course of their work.

The protests outside the correspondents’ dinner come as a protest movement sweeps across US universities – a growing revolt within a demographic Mr Biden will need to beat Mr Trump.

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