Joe Biden wants to be president of the United States until he is 86 years old. What was an open secret was officially confirmed on Tuesday in a three-minute video in which Biden asked voters to allow him to “finish the job.” In the video, the president formally announces that he will be running for re-election on November 5, 2024, calling on voters to defend freedom and democracy against extremists. The announcement was made on April 25, four years to the day since he announced his first presidential bid in 2020. For that campaign, Biden recited his favorite poem by Irishman Seamus Heaney, saying “hope and history rhyme.” Now, it is history that is rhyming, with all signs pointing to a repeat of the 2020 showdown between Biden and Donald Trump.
“Freedom... That’s been the work of my first term: to fight for our democracy, to protect our rights, to make sure that everyone in this country is treated equally, and that everyone is given a fair shot at making it,” the president says in the video. Biden’s running mate will again be Kamala Harris, the vice-president. It is customary to repeat a ticket and although Harris is not particularly popular, she complements Biden.
“Around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms: cutting social security that you’ve paid for your entire life while cutting taxes for the very wealthy, dictating what health care decisions, banning books, and telling people who they can love,” Biden continues in the video, which shows images of the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol, pro-abortion protests and photos of some of the most extreme Republicans, including Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene.
For months, Biden has been dropping hints that he was planning to run for re-election, but without making the official announcement. Most incumbent presidents are expected to run again, but there were doubts hanging over Biden, who will turn 82 shortly after the 2024 elections. According to the polls, most U.S. voters, and even Democrats, believe he should not run for a second term.
When Biden was at the lowest moment of his presidency, with his popularity at record lows due to inflation, the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and pressure from crime and the immigration crisis, many Democrats thought he had better step aside.
However, Biden successfully managed the midterm election campaign, handing Democrats the best results registered by the party in power in the last 20 years. Speaking to the press after the midterms, Biden was asked if he planned to run for the White House again in 2024. He pointed to his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, and answered in the plural: “Our intention is to run again.” When asked if he would prefer to run against Trump or Ron DeSantis, he joked: “It will be fun watching them take on each other.”
Beyond official announcements, Biden has always insisted that his plan was to run for re-election. In doing so, he discouraged potential rivals emerging from within his own party. Unlike in 2020, the path to the primaries is clear for the current president, who faces no strong rival candidacies. Anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has announced his intention to run, but his main asset is the surname of his father, New York senator, U.S. attorney general and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, and his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated five years earlier. Marianne Williamson is another contender, but her bid is equally unlikely to dent Biden’s course.
Furthermore, the Democratic Party has redrawn the primary calendar to suit Biden. South Carolina, the first state Biden won in 2020 following his defeats in Iowa and New Hampshire, will get the ball rolling on February 3, 2024. Nevada and New Hampshire will follow on February 6, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. The Democratic Convention where Biden’s presidential candidacy is expected to be confirmed will take place between August 19-22, 2024, in Chicago.
Biden has chosen Julie Chávez Rodriguez, a close ally of Harris, as his campaign manager. Should Biden win the Democratic nomination, the granddaughter of historic union and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez would become the first woman of Latin American descent to lead a presidential campaign.
Age just a number as Biden runs again
Even during the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden’s age was a matter of debate. When asked as a candidate if he planned to be a one-term president, he avoided committing either way and has consistently said issues over age are “totally legitimate” in a presidential race. However, he has also pointed to his age, and the 50 years of political experience he has amassed, as an advantage. On the other hand, Biden also described himself during the previous campaign as “a transition candidate.”
Initially, Biden’s priority appeared to be washing away the remnants of the Trump era, restoring democratic normalcy and combating the polarization of U.S. politics. That plan, however, was predicated on Trump’s withdrawal from the stage, which has not been the case. The Republican Party remains hostage to the former president, who backed extremist candidates to little effect in last November’s midterm elections. His role in the assault on the U.S. Capitol and claims of electoral fraud, his attempts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 elections, a criminal indictment and ongoing investigations into various alleged crimes have all failed to dent support for Trump among the staunchest Republican bases.
Trump’s decision to run again in the 2024 presidential race provided motivation for Biden. The president has often described his predecessor as a threat to democracy. He defeated him once and believes he is well-placed to do so again. In any case, in the event of a Biden-Trump rematch, the age issue is unlikely to take center stage: Trump will be 78 when the elections are held and should he win, he would surpass Biden as the oldest president to complete his term.
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