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Many conservative commentators have said President Biden’s performance during the debate was a sweeping validation of the alarm bells they’d been ringing for years about his age.

In the hours after last week’s presidential debate, a video clip began circulating that featured Jill Biden gingerly helping her husband step down from the event’s stage.

The snippet spread quickly on conservative media, along with an emerging narrative about President Biden’s weak performance: That the debate was a sweeping validation of the alarm bells they’d been ringing for years about his age.

Since well before he took office, pundits on the right have argued repeatedly that Mr. Biden, now 81, was too feeble for the job, playing up videos of him falling off a bike, tripping onstage or stumbling over words during speeches.

On the occasions when Mr. Biden has outperformed expectations — such as March’s State of the Union address — conservative critics have hinted

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