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Recently, the Star Tribune published a piece by James Brandt on why he may vote for Donald Trump this year ("Even a poor candidate can make a good president," May 28). Jim and I are longtime friends and former co-workers, and despite our political differences we've enjoyed many discussions on issues and elections over the years that were, I think, informative for both of us. I know that while he is generally conservative in his views, he does place moral values and reason over vitriol and rabble-rousing. So, his column startled and unsettled me. In light of the uproar over Biden's performance at the first debate on Thursday, I feel it's time for me to offer him a response.

Biden's mental lapse at the beginning of the debate was certainly unsettling to me. And he is visibly frail-looking, which definitely doesn't fit the appearance of a strong, commanding world leader. So why do I still want to vote for him to serve another four years as president? The bottom line is that not only is he a far better choice than Trump, he is a better choice than anyone else either party could put forward right now.

First, let's talk about his qualifications and why my concerns about his cognitive abilities and physical health are not in the end an issue to me. In his first term, he's demonstrated the skills to work with a very contentious Congress to get things done, and even with some missteps, he's led us out of the worst pandemic in a century, managing the difficult task of getting a vaccine out to the entire country, and also assisting the rest of the world in getting people vaccinated. The COVID-fueled recession, through his economic policies, is over. We have an unemployment level that's lower than it's been in half a century, and our economy outpaces the rest of the world. Inflation has been a byproduct of this, but it's slowly abating, and wages, surprisingly, have risen to counter it. After missteps in his border policy early on, he now backs policies that both parties can support, and without Republican recalcitrance at the urging of Trump, we could now have an immigration policy that would be effective and beneficial to Americans and those fleeing oppression and danger in other parts of the world.

Climate change is an existential threat to the population of the entire world, and it's no longer tenable to put off making the changes needed to drastically cut carbon emissions. There's a long way to go to secure the future of our children and grandchildren. We are already suffering the effects of record heat, unprecedented storms and rising sea levels. Biden is taking steps to lead us in the right direction. There's much more that needs to be done, and quickly, but at least he's on the right track.

For retirees like me and those who will retire soon, the status of Social Security and Medicare are of the utmost concern. Progressive taxation, as Biden proposes, can raise the needed funds to support these successful and proven programs, which have been vital to millions of Americans for over 85 years.

On the other hand, Trump has demonstrated a lack of understanding of how to benefit Americans, and clearly seems most interested in his own aggrandizement and self-benefit. He lies incessantly about almost everything, with supporters who will accept every claim and statement, no matter how outrageous, even if there is non-contestable evidence he's not telling the truth. He's now a convicted felon. He has multiple trials ahead of him, which I expect will result in more convictions. I have no issue with supporting a reformed criminal, but he is unrepentant.

His foreign policy positions, as far as I can discern them, are dangerous and shortsighted. He is oblivious to the imminent threat of climate change. Even those more moderate Republicans who should know better are willing to follow along and do his bidding. He threatens to jail his opponents, and openly contemplates becoming a dictator. He is a threat to our democracy. And of course there's much more he does that I find threatening and offensive. I do not hate him, but I certainly don't want him running the United States. I want to see him where he can do no more harm to us, retired at Mar-a-Lago or in Trump Tower, at the least.

Unfortunately, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have put forward any candidate with the experience and skills of Joe Biden. His aging process is obvious for all to see. At this point, I can accept his lapse at the first debate as a "senior moment," but it has to concern all of us if we vote to let him lead us for another four years. His performance after the lapse was creditable and acceptable. Diagnosing cognitive decline is difficult, even for experts in the field.

At 75, I'm not yet diagnosed as in cognitive decline, but I feel some empathy, as I have my moments, too, although I certainly haven't had any as startling as Biden's at the debate. But if his performance through the rest of the presidential campaign goes as well as his follow-up to Thursday evening, I plan to vote for him as the best-qualified person to run this country, with skill, integrity and moral values worthy of the president of the United States.

Ken Tobacman, of Brooklyn Park, is a retired engineer.