US President Joe Biden was expected to announce Tuesday he is running for a second term, plunging at the record age of 80 into a ferocious new White House campaign — and potential rematch against Donald Trump.
“Stay tuned,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday.
The Democrat was expected to release a video message, just as he did exactly four years ago when he announced his ultimately successful bid to defeat Trump in 2020.
After a series of big legislative wins and momentous foreign policy struggles in his first two years in office, Biden has no real challenger from within the Democratic Party.
But he is expected to face constant and fierce scrutiny over his age.
The veteran Democrat would be 86 by the end of a second term. Even if a medical exam in February found him “fit” to execute the duties of the presidency, many including in his own voter base believe he is too old.
An NBC News poll released over the weekend found that 70 percent of Americans, including 51 percent of Democrats, believe he should not run.
Sixty-nine percent of all respondents who said he shouldn’t run cited concerns over his age as a major or minor reason.
Biden likes to answer those concerns by saying, “watch me” — meaning that voters should focus on his policy wins at home and his marshaling of an unprecedented Western alliance to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
Over the next year and a half, Biden would have all the advantages of incumbency, backed by a united party, while Republicans are only just starting a messy primary season.
Trump, despite becoming the first former or serving president to be criminally indicted — and facing probes into his attempt to overturn his loss to Biden in the 2020 election — is the overwhelming Republican frontrunner.
On Monday, Trump was quick to pitch in his own criticism of the man who defeated him last time around.
“With such a calamitous and failed presidency, it is almost inconceivable that Biden would even think of running for reelection,” he said in a statement.
The most likely Republican challenger to the 76-year-old Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, presents a similarly right-wing figure, though is starkly younger at 44.
Biden is widely expected to stick with Kamala Harris, the first Black person and first woman ever to be vice president, on the November 2024 ticket.
‘Rebuilding the middle class’
Biden will underline his foreign policy credentials Tuesday when he meets with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is starting a state visit to the White House.
But if Biden framed his 2020 election as a fight to save American democracy from Trump, his bid for a second term will likely lean heavily on his claim to be restoring a US manufacturing base, with jobs for the middle class.
On Tuesday he is scheduled to deliver an economic address to a union conference being held in Washington, the White House says.
While not a campaign event, the scheduled theme — “how his investing in America agenda is bringing manufacturing back, rebuilding the middle class, and creating good-paying union jobs” — is set to be at the heart of the Democrat’s 2024 message.
Bland but comforting?
Biden’s approval ratings have not topped 50 percent for more than a year and a half.
However, he has consistently over-delivered when it matters. Supporters say the Democratic Party’s surprisingly strong performance in 2022 midterm congressional elections validated the Biden brand.
And while Biden may seem bland in comparison to Trump, he would bank on his moderate, old fashioned image being the secret weapon needed in an increasingly extreme era.
“My dad had an expression,” Biden often says. “‘Joey, don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.'”
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