Despite assurances from allies that he does intend to seek re-election in 2024, President Joe Biden has yet to formally announce his candidacy, and that, according to a conservative watchdog group, puts him in a legally questionable position requiring Federal Election Commission (FEC) intervention, as the Daily Mail reports.
The issue was raised by a group known as the Committee to Defeat the President in a letter sent to officials at the FEC last month which offered evidence in support of the contention that Biden is already effectively campaigning without officially saying so.
In the letter sent to the FEC, the Committee to Defeat the President contends that, based on statements from Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former White House chief of staff Ron Klain, and a host of other pubic figures, it is clear that the president is in the process of seeking a second term.
As such, the group argues, Biden's status as a candidate triggers a number of federal filing requirements and the need to comply with campaign fundraising rules that he has, to date, managed to skirt.
Counsel for the group, Dan Backer, also pointed out that the president has the campaign infrastructure in place for a 2024 run, something that further highlights what is, in his estimation, a candidacy that is already underway.
“Additionally, while Biden's campaign committee, Biden for President (the 'Campaign’) made a purely technical amendment to FEC Form 1 on August 30, 2022, the Campaign has no debt, and thus, no purpose for existing other than to be an authorized campaign committee of a candidate. The very existence of the Campaign further supports the fact that Biden is a 2024 presidential candidate,” Backer wrote.
Earlier this year, Biden insiders appeared to suggest that the president's re-election campaign was being readied for launch and that a late February announcement was likely.
At the time, an ally of the president explained, “I think it's all about timing at this point. It seems like he's all in. It's not really 'if' he runs anymore.”
Those sentiments seemed to build on reports from back in December that first lady Jill Biden told French President Emmanuel Macron at a White House state dinner that she and her husband were “ready” for a re-election run.
Earlier this year, Biden's intentions were reiterated by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who said when asked about her boss's plans, “I'll just repeat what the president said after the midterm election, which is he intends to run.”
Despite the aforementioned indications of another campaign in the offing, new reporting began to emerge last month that perhaps a 2024 run was not such a sure thing after all, as Politico noted.
Though a February launch date had been viewed as Biden's probable target, aides began to suggest that April was more likely, with observers wondering if even that was a potentially movable goalpost.
Complicating the analysis even further were poll numbers revealing that a large number of Democratic Party voters wanted someone other than Biden at the top of the ticket in 2024 and reports noting that the president was having trouble recruiting a campaign manager for such a bid.
Furthermore, the New York Times reported that Biden's apparent preference for Wilmington, Delaware as headquarters for 2024 was adding to the challenge of recruiting top talent among “younger campaign aides not eager to spend a year in a sleepy, small town.”
All of those possible red flags aside, however, first lady Jill Biden has offered recent assurances that her husband will be the Democratic candidate in 2024.
During an interview with Darlene Superville of the Associated Press in late February, Jill Biden said that there was “pretty much” nothing left to do in terms of a campaign launch besides choose its date, time, and place.
When pressed by Superville about growing questions as to Biden's commitment to another run and doubts about his ability to maintain the necessary level of presidential vigor well into his 80s, Mrs. Biden said, “How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it? He says he's not done. He's not finished what he started. And that's what's important.”
Though it remains to be seen whether the FEC will agree with Backer's characterization of Biden's campaign status, it certainly seems that at least some of those closest to the president would be hard pressed to counter his claims, given their own public statements on the matter.