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Joe Biden may not run for re-election, report says

By Sarah May
|
February 24, 2023

Despite significant reporting earlier this year suggesting that President Joe Biden's team was readying the imminent launch of his 2024 reelection campaign, new doubts about his intentions are emerging among Democratic Party insiders, according to Politico.

With Biden's plans potentially in limbo, speculation continues to swirl about precisely who might enter the fray in his place, should he decide to exit the political stage after a single term in office.

Uncertainty in the air

Though aides to the president previously suggested that a formal campaign kickoff was likely to occur sometime this month – likely after the State of the Union address – the timeline appears to have shifted, with April now thought to be the target.

However, according to Politico, even that may still be a movable goalpost, with those close to Biden indicating that no specific deadline for launch has been determined.

Though most continue to operate under the assumption that Biden will indeed mount another campaign for the White House, his delayed decision making has led to a new degree of jitters among party elites, the outlet noted.

Indeed, there are those – including a number of possible presidential hopefuls – who are formulating back-up plans just in case the octogenarian leader bows out.

Delay brings challenges

Whether due to the president's delayed decision or because of polls suggesting that a large number of Democratic voters want someone else at the top of the ticket in 2024, NBC News reports that the process of identifying a campaign manager for Biden's reelection bid has proven difficult.

Because it is thought that anyone managing a Biden 2024 campaign will likely be more involved in execution than in strategy, top political talent may be staying away, as some insiders suggest.

“Do you want to take on a job that has five bosses?” asked one source with knowledge of the situation.

The New York Times recently reported that Biden has also pitched Wilmington, Delaware as the headquarters for his 2024 campaign, something that has been a hard sell among several of his advisers, who think it “would make recruitment harder, with younger campaign aides not eager to spend a year in a sleepy, small town.”

If not Joe...

Amid recent whispers that Biden may not run in the next cycle, attentions have naturally turned to the question of who among top Democrats might compete for the top spot on the party's ticket.

According to The Hill, a recent survey conducted by the polling firm Premise in which respondents were asked to weigh in on a hypothetical Democratic primary that did not include Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris came in first place with 32% support, while former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took 20%.

Other notable names included in the poll were those of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who claimed 11% support, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who came in with 10%, and firebrand Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), who garnered 8%.

At the bottom of the list of included potential hopefuls were Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and unsuccessful Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who secured 6% and 5%, respectively.

Harris yields doubts

Despite topping the aforementioned primary poll in which Biden is not a candidate, Harris has reportedly failed to engender the type of confidence among top Democratic Party leaders to make her the obvious choice to lead the ticket in 2024.

As the New York Post notes, even some who supported Harris as Biden's vice-presidential pick in 2020 have since soured on her as a potential party standard-bearer, with one unnamed Democrat declaring, “I can't think of one thing she's done.”

Making the situation even stickier for Democrats is the question of how, if Biden opts out for 2024, Harris could be sidelined without producing serious backlash from much-needed minority voting blocks.

As one Biden insider said of the president and his inner circle, “They're not the quickest decision makers,” but the fact of the matter is that the longer they wait to formally enter the race, the greater the Democrats' strategic, operational, and messaging challenges appear likely to become.