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Democrats are excited about a Biden campaign for 2024. But they are not sure if he will run

2022-09-25T23:34:43.635Z

Many Democratic leaders, operatives and officials are cautiously excited about Joe Biden running for re-election in 2024, but still aren't sure he should, or will.



Biden says he would run for re-election against Trump 0:35

(CNN)

Many Democratic leaders, operatives and officials are cautiously excited about President Joe Biden running for re-election in 2024, dozens of senior Democrats told CNN.

But like many voters and donors — as poll after poll shows — they still aren't sure he should, or will.

The mood has changed markedly among top Democrats in recent months.

During Biden's political struggles in March, party leaders from across the country crammed into the halls of the Hilton, just blocks from the White House, for the annual meeting of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). , according to four people involved in the talks.

As they drank, as they looked around to make sure no one was listening, they winced, winced and whispered: What could they do to prevent Biden from running for re-election again?

"There were people who weren't sure he was the right candidate," said Jim Roosevelt, a senior member of the Democratic National Committee and the grandson of a president who ran for re-election more than any other.

When those same state party chairs and CEOs returned to the capital for their fall meeting two weeks ago, the arrangement had changed.

Biden's summer of success has begun to sink in.

Fears of a radical restoration of Donald Trump remain high, and legal problems are mounting anyway.

A potentially painful open primary would be looming if Biden decided not to seek another term.

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"In New Mexico I have seen a radical change after his speech in Philadelphia," said the chair of the state Democratic Party, Jessica Velasquez, referring to the president's battle for the soul of democracy speech.

"Part of that is that it keeps showing up."

A state party chairman who asked not to be identified added: "People were complaining because nothing was happening. Now we have the Biden we all voted for."

Biden: The GOP is intimidated by Trump 1:04

Inside the White House — both in the West Wing and in the offices of the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden — the past six weeks have renewed confidence in the president's chances in a re-election race.

They have developed an underdog mentality, saying that people doubt Biden and claim that she is not hot for him before she puts it all together and comes out on top.

He did it after he was ruled out during the 2020 primaries, they say, he did it when he ran against Trump and he did it again when his presidency was supposed to have failed in the spring.

Now they were ready to come on board, if he is.

"If you feel like you can do it," Roosevelt said, "people would want you to do it."

Biden is already the oldest president in history and tends to keep a lighter public agenda than his predecessors, raising questions about how long his campaign would be.

But even with those limited appearances recently, his poll numbers have slowly moved up.

Already at his rally in Washington on Friday, Biden delivered another in what has become a series of much more forceful speeches, attacking Republicans while pacing the stage with a handheld microphone and then walking offstage to the tune of " One More Time".

Yet as much as most Democrats would love to end the endless "Is he running?" debate, Biden continues to fuel it.

“My intention, as I said at the beginning, is that I could introduce myself again.

But it's just an intention.

Is it a firm decision that I apply again?

That remains to be seen," Biden said in his "60 Minutes" interview that aired last Sunday.

Aides dismissed that response as simply trying to heed lawyers' warnings not to preemptively activate the Federal Election Commission's fundraising and activity laws.

Many others are not convinced.

People in and around the president would like him to make a decision in early 2023, after he returns from his traditional family Christmas, possibly by Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

  • ANALYSIS |

    As Biden reflects on 2024, here are the reasons some presidents gave up seeking re-election

"He will decide when he decides," a senior Democrat speaking with the president told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a highly sensitive issue.

"And he has rarely decided anything a minute before he has to."

Even informed supporters who say they're completely fired up about Biden for 2024 are quick to add that of course he'll have to talk to his family to see what's best for him, and that more than anything, they know it all depends on the first person. lady.

No incumbent president has ever faced this kind of ongoing hesitation about running for re-election, stretching from Pennsylvania Avenue to Pennsylvania.

Dave Henderson, executive director of AFSCME Pennsylvania Council 13 — who as a Pittsburgh union leader is one of Biden's top voters — said he has supported the president since the start of his 2020 campaign and remains enthusiastic, but paused when he was asked if he would support Biden for re-election.

"Hard question, because I'm not sure he's going to run for re-election," Henderson said.

Told that Biden had said he intended to run, Henderson immediately signed off: "If he runs, then I endorse him."

Sen. Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat who holds Biden's former seat and has remained a confidant, told CNN that the president is "seriously considering running" and dismissed any snapshots of the "60 Minutes" interview or of the interview. any other place.

“He beat Donald Trump before;

will beat Donald Trump again.

If that's the way this race plays out, I think Joe Biden is the best Democrat to beat Donald Trump in 2024," Coons said.

Standing in the driveway of the White House earlier this month after attending the Inflation Reduction Act celebration, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett said that as one of the incumbent Democrats facing a strong Republican rival in November, he would be eager for the president to campaign for him.

"People have connected that it's the Democrats who deliver," Bennett said, "but I'd say it's more important than that: It reflects a very different ethic than the chaos in the Trump White House."

a family decision

Those who know the first lady's thought process and are familiar with the strength of the Biden clan's input tell CNN that the past few months have also made them feel more open to another campaign.

At times, they have expressed a little excitement at the prospect.

Jill Biden is "still processing" the idea, says a person with knowledge of the first lady's recent conversations on the subject.

She was never sold on Biden's candidacy in 2016, when she finally didn't.

She was in favor of her candidacy in 2020, when she did.

“She will want to know if he can win, first and foremost.

She doesn't want to be put in a position where she can be embarrassed,” said a person who has worked for Biden for a long time and has witnessed the first lady's tenacity with data evaluation.

"She will want to see a strategy for a primary and for a general (election)."

  • Criticism of Jill Biden for comparing Latinos to tacos: the first lady apologized

With the exception of Hunter Biden's youngest son, Biden's five other grandchildren are old enough and care enough to have an opinion on whether their "Pop" should run again.

The president himself recently recounted comments given to him by his grandchildren about entering the 2020 race.

"Jill would make sure this decision was made as a family: Hunter, Ashley, Val (Biden's sister) and the grandkids," says the person who has worked with Biden.

"She would like to know how they feel individually."

A top Biden adviser insisted there is no question.

“The president has always said that he intends to run for re-election and that is something that both Dr. Biden and the family fully support,” the adviser commented.

"The first lady will be an active campaigner for the Democrats this fall and will carry a message of optimism and hope, focusing on the accomplishments of her husband's administration. 'Joe is getting things done' will be a frequent message from her on the campaign trail, naming listing his accomplishments and calling on voters to imagine what else he could do with larger majorities in Congress.

Questions about Biden's age calm down a bit

Biden is now a couple of months older than he was when many Democrats were cautiously trying to push him off the stage in the spring, but are suddenly insisting that age is just a number for a man who would be an unprecedented 86 years old at the end of his second mandate.

"The age issue is a convenient place for people who had other reasons to say they didn't want him to run," said Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Pennsylvania congressman who supported Biden to run in 2016, attended the first his campaign fundraiser in 2020 and can't wait to see it go again.

"It will be unique to have someone that age running for president. It was two years ago. It was 2016 with Trump."

Standing in an aisle of the Capitol, Boyle gestured toward the floor of the House of Representatives, where the top three members of the Democratic leadership are now in their 80s.

"I serve in Congress," he said.

"To me, Joe Biden is young."

  • ANALYSIS |

    Something Americans agree on?

    Our politicians are too old

Biden has always been sensitive about being seen or called old, but he and others now say that all the talk over the summer that he was out of date and shouldn't run for re-election was just Democrats expressing desperation. that he and his White House seemed powerless to do anything.

"The first half of the administration, people basically described him as Johnny Carson in his retirement year," said Quinton Lucas, the 38-year-old mayor of Kansas City.

"What you're seeing now is someone who is very active, going on trips and interacting with different parts of the administration."

Getting results on "issues that are not only important to all Americans, but also issues that the base has been talking about for a long time (weapons, weather) defuses that discussion," Lucas said.

Sitting in a bar in suburban Pittsburgh, Summer Lee, the outspoken progressive young woman almost certainly headed to Congress to succeed a retiring Democrat, said she's not ready to commit to Biden, but she's ready to listen.

"You can have a man for the moment, but it doesn't matter unless we have a move for the moment," he said.

Whatever happens, Biden "deserves to be able to set that vision."

"The best thing that could prepare us for anything, whether it's President Biden or ... someone else ... is if we don't get killed in these intermissions," Lee said.

Biden's age worries voters ahead of the 2024 election 0:43

Coverage and planning

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, an active supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2020 and a frequent opponent of what she sees as Biden's moderation, has been at the White House for several recent celebrations, including the Inflation Reduction Act ceremony. .

She told CNN that Biden "should" run and "we will support him."

Others are not so strong.

Sources told CNN that far more elected officials on Capitol Hill than have said so publicly remain undecided about whether they want Biden to run again.

However, they say there are also many more who favor Biden's candidacy and are reluctant to say so publicly because they fear the perceived political fallout.

Several members of Congress dodged the question when asked by CNN, saying they didn't want to be on record discussing the question at all, including a progressive member who was excited about Biden's recent record and more open to a re-election campaign these days, but I didn't want to say it publicly.

Even reinforcements almost always include a little cover: an "if", a conditional tense, a "let's wait and see".

"If President Biden chooses to run for re-election, I look forward to supporting him," Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, widely seen as Nancy Pelosi's likely successor as leader of the House Democrats, told CNN at a news conference last week. passed, a response that was echoed by many other lawmakers who spoke with CNN.

For now, Biden advisers and DNC officials are approaching the future with the assumption that it's not a yes.

Still, his advisers brush off questions about ongoing planning for a possible re-election campaign.

Which party is leading ahead of the midterm elections?

2:50

"The president has always said that he intends to run for re-election, and nothing has changed about that thinking or the timeline for making his decision," an adviser told CNN.

Meanwhile, White House and DNC officials are laying the groundwork for a potential re-election campaign under the auspices of the party apparatus.

DNC officials say it helps that states with major Senate and gubernatorial races this year overlap with places where infrastructure would be needed for a presidential campaign.

“He has always said that he intends to run, and we take him at his word,” former Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Biden adviser and senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, told CNN.

"We're laying the groundwork for '24 while continuing to make historic investments in '22."

DNC officials and advisers to Biden attributed those investments to Biden's decision to focus on building the party apparatus rather than creating a campaign of his own, as Presidents Barack Obama and Trump did.

"From the moment he became the party's nominee ... there was no question that we would not be handling everything in coordination with the DNC," said a senior adviser to Biden.

So far, the DNC has raised a record $271 million this midterm election cycle, according to a DNC official, and has spent or committed more than $70 million in that time, more than double the total DNC spending. in the middle of 2018.

If not him, who?

While aides insist the president is focused on the midterm elections and his legislative agenda, the topic of his own political future has come up during closed-door talks with historians he invites to the White House, they told CNN people familiar with private conversations.

Democratic supporters and longtime admirers who believe he should not run again argue that he could be a historical figure if he announces he will only serve one term.

Some add, hopefully, that they believe his popularity would skyrocket immediately if he were to retire.

Biden did what he came to Washington to do, some around the president argue, but they also point out that his top priority would be trying to make sure Trump or another Republican didn't follow him to undo all of that.

Each of these conversations is driven, at least in part, by a question that has so far remained unanswered: if not him, then who?

Although the election of Biden is one of the most important decisions facing the party, the topic is rarely addressed out loud.

Even behind the closed doors of fundraisers the president attended this week in New York, aides said, the 2024 campaign fell short of what has become his usual warning about how different the campaign could be. second half of his term if Republicans win majorities in Congress.

"This is not about 2024, this is about 2022," he said in one.

  • They're 'rumors,' says White House on reports of concerns about Biden's re-election

Some Democratic voters are not so reticent.

"I like Biden, but to be totally honest, I think a lot of the elderly, and elderly women, need to move on," Marylou Blaisdell, a small business owner in Nashua, New Hampshire, said last week in an interview.

"We need some rotation. We need some new blood. We need some new ideas."

However, if Biden decides to run — and Trump is his opponent — Blaisdell said he would back him wholeheartedly.

People wondering what the search for some young people would actually look like in a primary process -- including potentially pitting various members of the Biden administration against each other and a repeat of the 2020 campaign's intense ideological struggle between the progressive and moderate wings of the party-- remain cautious.

“I am in favor of delaying the show of *** that will come after him for four more years,” a president of the state party told CNN.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Joe Biden

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-09-25

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