Biden Running But Not Running

The re-election campaign is quietly forming but don't expect an announcement any time soon.

Official White House Photo by Erin Scott

POLITICO (“Biden world privately makes 2024 moves of their own“):

Quietly, however, the White House and the DNC are taking some early steps to prepare for the Biden re-elect campaign. There are discussions about having multiple, allied super PACs with one or two dedicated to Black and Latino media, according to a senior Democrat. Two other Democrats confirmed that there are general discussions about an outside paid Latino media effort but said it was unclear if it would be through a super PAC or some other entity.

The White House and the DNC have also worked together to solicit resumes for some senior roles in the re-elect, according to five Democrats familiar with the matter. Biden advisers have zeroed in on headquartering the re-elect in Philadelphia, although a final decision has not been made, according to four of those Democrats. And some White House officials have already expressed interest to senior aides about joining the campaign.

[…]

Many Democrats don’t expect a Biden decision to come imminently. Biden himself is known to be Hamlet-esque in settling on these types of matters. Plus, the White House is wary of the financial burdens that come after the president officially declares for re-election. Currently, the DNC pays for political events, but the White House can fudge what is technically a political event or just a policy event with political upside. That becomes more difficult once Biden declares, and the bills can quickly add up. Some former Trump White House officials believe they made a mistake by filing for re-election on day one because of the campaign money it ended up costing them the first two years.

So until then, the White House will largely be relying on the DNC to do the electoral blocking and tackling. The committee is launching a coordinated 2024 response effort that will hound multiple GOP hopefuls, according to a person familiar with the operation.

The DNC, which has also been monitoring former Vice President MIKE PENCE‘s book tour blitz, just announced plans to embed press staffers in the four states at the front of the primary calendar as well in Florida, home turf for both Trump and DeSantis.

It’s the earliest the DNC has ever put communications staffers on the ground in a presidential cycle, according to a press release announcing the moves.

As for early messaging against Trump, both the DNC-run @JoeBiden account and the White House-run @POTUS account published videos today that focused on the president signing the bipartisan infrastructure bill after Trump’s inconsistent efforts to focus on the issue.

As Biden said in one of his videos: “My predecessor promised infrastructure week. It never came.”

While I continue to have misgivings about Biden’s age and propensity to misspeak, I simply can’t imagine he doesn’t run again if his health allows it. All things considered, he’s had a good two years and the midterm results were better than expected. Beyond that, Kamala Harris has not exactly lit up the world despite being given a much bigger platform than typical for the Vice President. There’s not really an obvious successor waiting in the wings.

It fully makes sense for Biden to wait as long as possible before making an announcement, both the avoid the expenses of being an official candidate and to keep up the illusion that he’s just doing his job. And he’s especially suited for a Rose Garden approach to campaigning.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    If you look at Biden’s record, of course he should run. It boils down to “old white man is boring”.

  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Biden has been a good president. If he walks away the decision will be compared with Washington’s decision to step back from a presidency he could have kept. It would be a Cincinnatus moment. An act of unselfish virtue. He was elected, he did what we needed him to do, he lowered the temperature, broke the back of MAGA, carried us through Covid (which I’ve got, by the way) has been masterful on Ukraine and leaves the United States a stronger country. Always leave ’em wanting more.

    As for a replacement, my ticket at the moment is Gretchen Whitmer and Pete Buttigieg. Whitmer is charismatic, possesses a degree of gravitas and is clearly smart. Abortion and trans rights need to be fought out, and Buttigieg is the guy for that. And they are both from rust belt states, so relatively immune to charges of elitism. Best of all, they are not Boomers.

    In my fantasy they both STFU about being the first this and the first that, and run on issues.

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  3. @Michael Reynolds:

    If he walks away the decision will be compared with Washington’s decision to step back from a presidency he could have kept. It would be a Cincinnatus moment. An act of unselfish virtue.

    If Biden doesn’t run, that increases the odds of a Trump or DeSantis win. As such, the virtuous sacrifice may be to run.

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  4. @MarkedMan:

    It boils down to “old white man is boring”.

    It boils down to being in one’s 80s is awfully old to have that job.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Pete Buttigieg really impressed in the last campaign but neither Mayor of South Bend nor Transportation Secretary are traditional paths to the Presidency. I haven’t paid much attention to Whitmer, to be honest but I don’t know she has much of a national profile. She’d need to start running now and Biden makes that next to impossible.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m with @Steven L. Taylor on this. Biden’s age was a huge factor already in 2020; it’ll be bigger in 2024. The number of non-MAGA types who casually mention that they think he’s senile is astounding.

  7. Tony W says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Trump and Biden are essentially the same age.

    Further, Mr. Biden is in much, much better health than Mr. Trump.

    It’s a non-issue.

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  8. @Tony W: This is true. But Trump being almost 80 doesn’t stop Biden from being 80 this month and therefore raising real questions about Biden. I mean, I guess if it is Trump v. Biden then the age thing gets a tad nullified.

    I was specifically countering MM’s assertion that questions about Biden about about him being old and boring. The questions (which are legitimate) are based on his age. if he was 69 instead of 79 (with a birthday next week), we wouldn’t be having any conservation at all about him running again.

    And there is, in my view, a broader question of why we are governed by people in their 70s as a general matter.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Ageism is persistent. It wouldn’t matter if Biden did a routine on the pommel horse, people see what they are primed to see.

    But it goes beyond that. There is a hunger for someone who is not a Boomer let alone a Silent. Some of that is ageism, but a lot of it is a legitimate desire, an impatience, to see a changing of the guard. DeSantis is 44. Whitmer is 51. Gavin Newsom is 55. They’re all Gen X. Buttigieg is 40, a Millennial.

    Trump is 76, barely under the wire as a Boomer and Joe is 79, is in the post-war Silent generation. While we’re at it, Pelosi and McConnell are also old as hell. Enough gerontocracy. At some point it’s time to step aside.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    Also, too, Biden is under no pressure to announce early to try to forestall an indictment.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: While I will agree with you in principle, IT’S NEVER TIME TO STEP ASIDE! OUR AGREEMENT WAS THAT WE GET TO RUN THINGS FOR A LONG AS WE WANT! [runs out of room screaming]

  12. DK says:

    1) Biden is not going to step aside without being pushed aside, either by Democratic primary voters or by Pelosi, Obama, Bernie, Clyburn, Michelle, Hillary, Oprah etc. Pelosi is publicly in on Biden 2024. We’ll see about the rest.

    2) Democrats are not in the foreseeable future going to nominate an all-white president/VP slate.

    So. There’s that.