Question: What does a box office hit from three decades ago about two curmudgeonly neighbors have to do with the 2024 presidential campaign?
Answer: The movie “Grumpy Old Men” shares its title with a new digital and video effort by Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley to take aim at 77-year-old former President Trump and 81-year-old President Biden.
In a news release Wednesday, Haley’s campaign pointed to a slew of public opinion polling over the past year which indicates that a majority of Americans are anything but enthused about a Biden-Trump presidential election rematch in November.
Haley’s campaign calls it the “rematch no one wants.”
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An image from a new series of videos and digital spots from GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley’s campaign, which target President Biden and former President Trump over their age and cognitive abilities. (Nikki Haley presidential campaign)
“Nearly 50% of Republicans and 70% of Americans don’t want to watch ‘Grumpy Old Men’ stumble across America when our country is on the brink and the world is on fire,” Haley spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas argued. “Sadly, this version of ‘Grumpy Old Men’ offers no comic relief — just chaos, confusion, and a bad sense of déjà vu for the American people.”
Haley, a former two-term South Carolina governor who later served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, turned 52 a week and a half ago. She is the last remaining major candidate challenging the former president, who is the commanding frontrunner for the Republican nomination as he makes his third straight White House run.
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The new series jabs at Biden and Trump over potential signs of cognitive decline, their anything but robust campaign schedules, and blames them for the high inflation Americans have been dealing with in recent years.
Haley made headlines when she jumped into the White House race a year ago by calling for mental competency tests for candidates who are 75 or older, which would apply to both the incumbent president and former president.
Republican presidential candidate former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign event at The North Charleston Coliseum, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in North Charleston, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
For months, Haley has promoted herself as a “new generational leader” that can steer the GOP into the future and that America is “ready to move past the stale ideas and faded names of the past,” which is a none too subtle knock at Biden and Trump.
Starting last month, Haley started more overtly focusing on the president’s age. “I’ll just say it, Biden’s too old,” she said in a campaign commercial.
In her stump speeches, Haley has repeatedly said “we all know 75-year-olds that can run circles around us. And then we know Joe Biden.”
Haley has upped her criticisms of Trump in recent days, after the former president made some well publicized verbal gaffes.
She has argued that Trump has appeared “confused” and charged that his attacks on her after she won 43% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary last week were “totally unhinged.”
Additionally, she has spotlighted Trump’s age in recent fundraising emails to supporters.
Republican presidential candidate former President Trump motions before speaking at a campaign event Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Loche)
The former president, responding to the questioning of his cognitive abilities, said this past weekend at a rally in Nevada that he feels “sharper now than I did 20 years ago.”
Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt argued in a statement to Fox News on Wednesday that “the only people who will be grumpy this election are Nikki Haley who has no pathway to victory, Joe Biden who is losing to President Trump in every single battleground state, and all of their Democrat donors when they are defeated by President Trump.”
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Fox News reached out to the president’s re-election campaign, but did not receive a response at the time this story was posted.
President Biden speaks at the First in the Nation Celebration held by the South Carolina Democratic Party at the State Fairgrounds, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Columbia, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)
Thanks to his double-digit wins this month in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary — the first two contests on the GOP presidential nominating calendar, Trump is in the driver’s seat to win the nomination.
Haley, who is vowing to stay in the race at least through Super Tuesday in early March, is aiming to slow Trump’s momentum in her home state, which on Feb. 24 holds the next major contest in the GOP schedule. However, she faces a steep uphill climb.
A Haley aligned super PAC is blasting a new ad on South Carolina airwaves that takes aim at Trump. It includes a line Haley uses in her stump speeches, that “the first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate is going to be the party that wins this election.”
Longtime Republican strategist David Kochel noted that “most voters don’t want this rematch, so Haley’s playing into a message that has a lot of popular sentiment in the country.”
However, Haley’s spotlight on Biden and especially Trump’s age and mental abilities could backfire among a GOP primary electorate that trends older than the overall voting population.
“Whether it is an effective tool inside the Republican primary electorate remains to be seen. None of this stuff has worked yet in terms of beating Trump,” noted Kochel, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns who remains neutral this cycle. “It’s much better in a general election context.”
Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.