President Biden plans to use some time over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to decide if he wants to run for re-election, surrounding himself with family as he assesses his political future while giving himself a deadline early next year to make the official announcement.
Biden, who has just turned 80, remains in the minds of many Democrats the party’s best chance of retaining the White House in 2024. However, he is balancing his next steps at a time when many of his party contemporaries have stepped down from senior positions to make room for a new generation of leaders. .
For Biden, a stronger-than-expected midterm outcome for the Democrats is sure to weigh heavily on the decision, along with the potential for a rematch with former President Trump. And while the White House insisted for months on Biden’s plans to run again, the president left the door open for a final decision after discussion with family over the holidays.
“He’s planning to run. He said he’s going to have a private conversation with his family,” press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
She added, “I’m certainly not going to specify what this conversation could or could look like.” “Obviously, it’s the prerogative of the president to have that conversation with his family, to make that decision.”
Biden’s early 2023 announcement will align with fresh, young faces assuming positions of Democratic leadership. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), 82, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-) , 83, said this month that they would not run again for leadership positions, paving the way for younger Democrats to lead the party’s effort. In a new minority in the House of Representatives.
Alan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, said that Pelosi and Hoyer stepping aside when the House flipped this month would not prevent Biden from running for another term.
They are no longer in charge of the House of Representatives. This was the perfect moment to step aside. I don’t think there is any connection between Hoyer and Pelosi stepping down from any Biden decision-making process. Presidents have almost invariably sought re-election regardless of their age.
For Democrats, Lichtman said, “The last thing you want is for Biden to step down and have an open seat.”
Since 1920, there have been eight open seats during presidential elections and the party controlling the White House has won only once—in 1988, when then-Vice President George H. W. Bush was elected to replace President Reagan after Reagan’s second term.
“The Democrats don’t want an open seat, and they don’t want a party fighting for the nomination,” Lichtman said.
The frontrunner to run for the next Democratic leader of the House is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. The 52-year-old New York representative is much younger than the current leadership, though political observers don’t think the president will be hard to work with.
Jeffries was a prominent surrogate for Biden in the 2020 election, and Biden usually takes on a mentoring role with young Democrats and works well with them, as does Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, some have pointed out.
However, Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, said younger Democratic leaders would escalate conversations about Biden’s age.
“It means his age will be ballooning, the contrast with younger Democrats more pronounced, all of which will fuel conversations about what he should do in 2024,” Zelizer said. “Having said that, he can use the moment to position himself as a voice of experience, wisdom, and reason—someone with the best chops to handle re-election and the challenges of a second term.”
While critics say Biden’s age is increasingly important, the president’s supporters consider attacks against him based on his age unfair.
Democrats would greatly prefer Biden to run again, and don’t see a good alternative for him even considering his age. This sentiment was reinforced by the Democrats’ performance in the midterm elections.
Biden still has many notable contemporaries in politics.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will remain in office, is the same age as Biden at 80. And Trump, who made another bid for the White House this month, is 76 years old.
While many say the Trump campaign won’t play a big role in Biden’s decision to run again, Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, has argued that part of the reason Biden wants to run for a second term is to take on Trump again. .
Does the country still need him to prevent Trump from another presidency? I think that’s why Joe Biden ran, it was to stop Trump, and I suspect if you ask President Biden, besides that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, what are his biggest concerns for our republic, will be the return of Donald Trump.
He added that without Trump running, Biden may be forced to step down. He pointed out that Biden achieved great achievements during only one term, especially through his work in uniting global allies during the war in Ukraine.
“If Trump is no longer a major political player in 2024 and Europe is still united in defending Ukrainian censorship – and maybe even if the war ends by 2024 – then Joe Biden will have achieved some great things,” Naftali said.
AUC’s Lichtman argued though that Biden’s accomplishments, on top of Democrats’ hold on to control of the Senate, make Biden more attractive to run for another term.
“Certainly, the appeal of Joe Biden’s ad is bolstered by the Democrats’ better-than-expected performance,” he said. “Joe Biden hasn’t gotten nearly as much credit for his administration as he should.”
Amy Barnes contributed to this report.