Biden is telling everyone in the Democratic Party that he will run for reelection in 2024. And he is instructing his aides to confirm it. According to ‘The Washington Post’, the US president himself assured a group of donors in a virtual meeting this month and no one from the party will say publicly that he has heard something different from the White House.
“The only thing I’ve heard from his mouth is that he plans to run again,” Chris Dodd, a former senator and Biden ally, told the same newspaper.
The reality is that a new presidential race for Biden has always been seen as a distant and impossible option. Biden himself, in the 2020 campaign, defended that his candidacy to “restore the soul of America” was to dethrone Donald Trump and be the “bridge for a new generation of Democrats.”
Secondly, there is the question of his age and the existence of mortality, from which even the presidents of the first world power are not spared. This Saturday, Biden turned 79 years old. That implies that he will get into a fierce campaign – perhaps first with Democratic contenders in the primaries, given the weakness that his first months in the White House have shown – against a Republican candidate with a knife between his teeth, who may attack his administration – ¿ Will he be Trump? – and without the advantage he had in the pandemic campaign. In 2020, the restrictions by the Covid-19 allowed him a campaign without wear, from the basement of his house, with hardly any interventions before the press and with comfortable rallies.
When he goes to the polls in 2024, Biden will be close to his 82nd birthday. If he wins, his term will be extended to 86. It will be more difficult for him to give those little runs he offered at his few rallies in 2020 to show his physical vigor. This same Friday he underwent his annual medical examination and the doctor’s report assured that the president has “the ability to successfully carry out the work of the presidency.” But he drew attention to two aspects of his health: the increase in his cough and the need to clear his throat – he attributes it to acid reflux – and the visible stiffness in his walk, due to the advance of arthritis in his spine. His health in 2024 is unknown, but, at his age, it is difficult to think that he will improve.
Furthermore, the timing of his presidency is not promising for re-election. Since the summer, Biden has sunk in the polls, with an approval rating hovering around 40%. Democrats took a correction in this month’s elections and the danger of a debacle that will cause them to lose their majorities in Congress in next year’s legislatures is increasingly real.
It’s because of that weakness that Biden says his plan is to run again. The opposite would be to mine his own term and further weaken the Democrats. It would open the field for other candidates – such as Vice President Kamala Harris, the initial favorite but who the presidency is not helping, or the Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg -, which would be just distractions.
The paradox is that who the Democrats really want to come forward is Trump. He is the glue of his electorate, the one that can mobilize him to the polls. Much more than any other candidate of his own, especially Biden himself.