KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C., (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden should announce his candidacy for re-election sooner than usual following November’s congressional race in a bid to squash speculation about the Democrat’s plans ahead of the 2024 campaign, several sources said.
Biden, who turns 80 shortly after the Nov. 8 midterms, has faced increasing questions about his own political future despite long maintaining that he intends to seek re-election.
Biden is already the oldest person to occupy the Oval Office, besting Ronald Reagan, who ended two terms in office at age 77.
Whether he, or anyone, could endure the rigors of a U.S. presidential campaign and run the world’s largest economy in their eighties is a matter of growing debate. His leading prospective Republican opponent, Donald Trump, would also be in his eighties at the end of a 2024 term.
An early move to announce before a Republican opponent would launch a nearly two-year steeplechase to the 2024 presidential election.
People involved in planning the president’s campaign told Reuters that an early announcement would be a smart step for Biden, sending a signal to political donors, potential rivals inside and outside the party, as well as the general public that Biden is no lame duck and that Democrats are unified behind his agenda, personality and leadership.
“The Republican campaign for president begins after the midterms and the president needs to make the announcement during the same time to satisfy concerns within the party,” one top Democratic official said.
The move also would outfit a vast and much-better-funded campaign operation designed to sell Biden’s agenda to the country than the White House alone could muster as their efforts to sell their legislative accomplishments over two years wilted under red-hot inflation and bitter partisanship.
Biden is having meetings with his political advisers, a source familiar with the president’s thinking said, and in those meetings he keeps stressing that the attention right now needs to be on the midterms, rather than the timing of any presidential campaign.
“There is no planned date or timeframe. As the president has said before, he fully expects to run for reelection,” that source said.
The White House and the Democratic National Committee declined to comment.
Republicans will be eager to seize on Biden’s campaign to launch of volley of attacks they expect will have already won them control of at least the House of Representatives, a perch from which they can stop major legislative victories for Biden.
But that party’s own prospects are in doubt given questions over whether they will remain hitched to Trump despite his loss to Biden in 2020, investigations into his actions in office, a probe into his retention of documents afterward and the emergence of a slate of potential Republicans rivals.
The White House feels newly emboldened about Democrats’ chances in the midterms and Biden’s in the 2024 race after a series of seismic shifts, including the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision and the expected signing of the Inflation Reduction Act, a $430 billion bill focused on lowering healthcare costs, promoting clean energy and increasing corporate taxes.
Biden’s public approval rose this week to its highest level since early June following that and other legislative victories, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Tuesday. The two-day national poll found that 40% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance.
Biden huddled with his family, on whom he has long relied for political counsel, while on vacation in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
After summer vacation, the president is expected to embark on his most intensive stretch of in-person salesmanship of his agenda since the 2020 presidential campaign, including visiting many of the states that will be crucial to his own re-election on behalf of candidates for the House and Senate.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in Washington and Jarrett Renshaw in Kiawah Island, South Carolina; Editing by Heather Timmons and Mark Porter)