Clyburn won’t say whether Biden should run again until after midterms

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Greg Nash
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) is seen during an enrollment ceremony for the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, August 12, 2022.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking member of the House Democratic leadership, says he’s not commenting on whether President Biden should run for reelection until he sees the results of the Nov. 8 midterm elections.  

“I have no idea. Until this election is over, I’m not going to focus on ’24,” Clyburn said at a campaign event in Charlotte for Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley.  

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have also sidestepped questions about whether Biden should run for a second term.  

“I’m not going into politics about whether the president should run or not,” Pelosi told CNN last month.  

Schumer has only said he will support Biden if he chooses to launch a reelection.  

Clyburn’s silence on the prospect of Biden running for a second term is notable because the South Carolina lawmaker’s endorsement in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary was seen as critical to Biden winning South Carolina with more than 48 percent of the vote.  

Biden’s decisive primary victory over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) helped him wrap up the nomination.  

The president’s national approval rating now stands at 42 percent, according to the most recent Gallup tracking poll, and Democrats acknowledge his unpopularity is a major headwind for Democratic candidates.  

Beasley, a former state Supreme Court chief justice who is trailing her Republican opponent in the polls, also declined to say whether Biden should run for another term. 

“I can’t imagine he’s going to ask me about that,” she said 

Instead, she called on Biden to deal with 40-year-high inflation.  

“I really hope that right now what he’s focused on is addressing rising costs for folks here in North Carolina. This is a critical issue for folks who live here,” she said.  

Clyburn said he’s also waiting to see how Election Day shakes out before making any decision about running for the House Democratic leadership — perhaps the job of Speaker or minority leader if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) retires at the end of the year or if Democrats lose control of the House.  

“I have no idea until this election is over. I think it would be foolhardy for me to talk about what my future is going to be when I have no idea what the supporting cast is going to be. If you’re in the majority, that’s one thing. If you’re in the minority, that’s another thing,” he said.  

Pelosi promised to serve only two two-year terms as Speaker when she faced a tough race to serve in the top House leadership job after the 2018 midterm election. 

Clyburn and House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) have made it clear to reporters that they don’t feel bound by Pelosi’s promise to step down from leadership after 2022, and now there’s some question as to whether Pelosi will let go of the Speaker’s gavel if Democrats keep control of the House.  

Most political prognosticators, however, say that Republicans will likely win the House majority next month. 

A group of younger House Democrats are calling for generational change across they party’s leadership.  

“I have been very vocal, including with my own leadership in the House, that we need a new generation. We need new blood, period, across the Democratic Party — in the House, the Senate and the White House. I think that the country has been saying that,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), who is in a competitive reelection race, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” earlier this month.  

Clyburn, who is 82, said he’s not bothered by calls for “new blood” in the Democratic leadership. 

“That’s fine with me. The caucus makes its intention known. When I first ran for whip, they told me that no Southerner — especially no Black Southerner — could … be an effective whip. I proved them a liar then,” he said.  

Tags 2022 midterms 2024 presidential election Cheri Beasley james clyburn James Clyburn Joe Biden Nancy Pelosi North Carolina President Joe Biden South Carolina

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