The mental ability and age of the United States' presidential candidates took centre stage on the campaign trail following a report that suggested President Joe Biden was suffering memory lapses.
Former President Donald Trump accused both Biden, the Democrat he will likely face in November's general election, and Nikki Haley, Trump's last remaining rival for the Republican presidential nomination, of lacking the mental capacity to be president.
Haley - like Trump, campaigning in South Carolina where the two will meet in a primary election on February 24 - went after both men, calling Trump mentally deficient and saying Biden is too old to be president.
Meanwhile, the Biden White House, responding to the report on Thursday from a Department of Justice special counsel that said Biden had a poor memory, continued its full-scale attack on Trump's age and mental acuity after Trump recently mixed up names and made other verbal gaffes.
"Every single time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he's confused, deranged, lying, or worse," T.J. Ducklo, a Biden spokesman, said in a statement re leased by Biden's reelection campaign.
Mixing up names
The issue of mental competency has become a major topic in this year's presidential campaign. Biden, 81, and Trump, 77, are the two oldest men respectively to have been elected president. In recent days, Biden has mixed up the names of some world leaders.
The issue is a vexing one for Biden's reelection campaign. In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in September, 77 percent of respondents said they agreed with a statement that Biden was too old to work in government, while 56 percent said the same of Trump.
Haley, 52, has called for mental com petency tests for presidential candidates over 75 years old.
The issue was thrust front and centre again after Special Counsel Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland during Trump's administration, said in his report that he chose not to bring criminal charges against Biden following a 15-month investigation into his handling of classified documents because the president cooperated.
Hur said the Democratic incumbent would be difficult to convict and described him as a "well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory" who was not able to recall to investigators when his son, Beau Biden, died.
Trump, at a rally in Conway, South Carolina, said Hur's report showed Biden "is not fit to serve as our commander in chief."
Trump - who faces four state and federal criminal trials, including one for mishandling classified documents - is close to clinching the Republican nomination, and the prospect of a likely general election rematch with Biden in November.
Trump on Saturday called his former UN ambassador "birdbrain" and "brain-dead," suggesting she did not have the mental capacity to enter the White House.