Biden sees himself as a two-term president
Joe Biden campaigned on being a “transition” president during a pivotal time in the nation’s history, saying he’d take the reins away from former President Trump and return the country to normal.
But now more than ever, those around him say he’ll make another bid for the presidency.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to say that he won’t,” said one longtime adviser to the president.
Another Biden ally added that Biden hasn’t told associates that he wouldn’t be running again.
“So we all assume that he is,” the ally said, “contrary to this sentiment that he’ll be a one-term president because of his own volition.”
Biden, who will turn 79 later this year, is the oldest president in the nation’s history. If he runs again in 2024, it will undoubtedly open discussions about his age and ability to handle the job.
Republican talking heads, including Fox News’s Sean Hannity, have already been raising questions about Biden’s cognitive abilities, posing questions about who’s really in charge at the White House.
GOP senators implicitly sent the same message earlier this year, arguing they could deal with Biden but that the staff around him, particularly White House chief of staff Ron Klain, made it more difficult. Few reporters who heard those statements saw it as anything other than an effort to make it appear that it was staff running the White House and not Biden.
Biden allies say it’s still early in his presidency and too early to be thinking about 2024.
It’s two years until the start of primary season, and those close to the campaigner in chief stress that no one is thinking about a second presidential bid.
“He hasn’t even fully staffed up the White House yet,” the adviser said. “There’s a lot to do before he even reaches the point where he has to make a final decision.”
Even if he decides not to run, Democratic strategists say it behooves him to not announce he’s stepping aside until later in his presidency to avoid lame-duck status.
“Biden should definitely be preparing to run again,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “It’s easier to stop the train than start it late, and a lame-duck president won’t get many things passed.”
Still, those close to him signal Biden is up for another four years. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told Politico in January that Biden is “planning to run again.”
“He knows that we are at the middle of an absolute turning point, a pivot point in American history, and he’s up for the challenge,” Coons said.
It’s likely there will also be pressure on Biden to run again, too, given the closeness of the 2020 race.
Biden cast himself as the one Democrat who could defeat Trump, and with the former president flirting with another run, some in the party will see Biden as the best bet to keep Trump out of the Oval Office.
In an interview with “Axios on HBO” in November, Valerie Biden Owens, Biden’s sister who has advised Biden since the start of his political career, said her brother “absolutely” would run for a second term.
“He’s transitional in that he’s bringing in all these young people and bringing [us] back again [so] we’re not a divided country,” she continued. “But sure. He’s going strong.”
Recent polls appear to support that sentiment. Biden has the support of a majority of Americans, with 55 percent saying they approve of his performance, according to politics website FiveThirtyEight. His approval rating is bolstered by his handling of the coronavirus and vaccine distribution.
Last week, Biden took a victory lap of sorts after meeting a deadline of delivering 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots well ahead of schedule after a slow rollout.
Earlier this month, Congress also passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which sent direct payments of up to $1,400 to many Americans.
Biden faces other challenges in his presidency. For starters, he has to break the fever of a nation that remains divided after four years of Trump. He also must contend with a fracture in his own party and pressure from progressives who don’t want him to compromise with Republicans.
He faces pressures to fix an economy that has suffered due to the coronavirus, to mend racial divides, to address inequality and to deal with the latest rash of mass shootings, in Boulder, Colo., and Atlanta.
Separately, Democrats wonder how Vice President Harris fits into the picture and how she will contend with Biden and her own prospects of running again for president.
If Biden does not run, she is the clear heir apparent.
“She is in the difficult position of wanting to run for president obviously but being a bit boxed out because of the whole question of whether or not Biden will run again,” one Biden ally said. “That could cause some friction down the line.”
During his campaign, Biden stopped short of saying he would be a one-term president. But he also made it known that he would be passing the torch to younger leaders in the party.
“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Biden said on the campaign trail in March 2020. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.”
But those in Biden World say the president is proving he can handle the job now and four years down the road.
“He’s had an incredible couple of months,” the longtime adviser said. “He’s proving all the naysayers wrong every single day.”
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