One formulation of the same question kept coming up as President Joe Biden’s top advisers circulated at White House holiday parties and held private briefings for key allies last month: How may I contribute to the campaign?
One Biden adviser recalled that donors, operatives, activists, and celebrities alike frequently inquired about it, albeit casually. It was also a clear shift that only bolstered the perception in the West Wing that the party has united around one final White House run after a year marked by questions within the party about nearly everything Biden did.
There has not yet been an official campaign. Additionally, Biden has yet to personally interview any candidates for high-ranking positions. However, Biden has given every indication to those around him that he is preparing to launch another presidential campaign as he nears a final decision.
A small group of Biden’s closest advisors has been working diligently for months to construct a campaign apparatus in preparation for his decision, and they have begun to anticipate a possible announcement next month.
To develop a strategy for 2024, they have discussed the lessons learned from the midterms with high-ranking officials in battleground states.
In addition, they are beginning to spread a message in a methodical manner that places an emphasis on Biden’s accomplishments and allows Republicans’ internal conflict to speak for itself. Biden’s travels across the country following the midterm elections have reflected the central tenets of that message. His itinerary included stops in Arizona and Michigan and will take him to Georgia on January 15.
All three were necessary for Biden to win in 2020 and will be necessary again if he runs in 2024. The three states remain contentious battlegrounds.
When a reporter asked Biden when he would announce his reelection campaign, Biden responded, “in time.”
The president’s decision to run again is influenced by a number of factors, including duty, pride, family, and health. Biden would be 86 years old at the end of a possible second term, making him the oldest president ever. His team is well aware that one of Biden’s biggest flaws is his age, particularly how the public perceives it. According to polls, many Democratic voters still believe he should not run for another term because of this.
Even though Biden was scheduled to consult with members of his family about launching a reelection campaign during his winter vacation in the US Virgin Islands, the decision appears to many on his team to be almost complete. According to aides, the president enjoyed golfing with his grandson and sunbathing on a private beach on St. Croix during the week.
In conversations with CNN, close allies of Biden, officials from the administration, and members of Congress said that it is nearly impossible to find anyone in the president’s world these days who doesn’t believe the president will run for a second term.
According to a senior administration official, “we all operate under the assumption he is running.”
A Democratic legislator who was in close contact with the West Wing stated, “The guy is running.”
“Everyone knows: Another high-ranking administration official stated, “He’s running.” It’s all good.
“Great admirer of fate”
Biden stated the day after the November midterms that, assuming nothing unexpected happened, he “intended” to run again. Additionally, he and his family have indicated to others that they are preparing for a run, including to the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of December.
A desire to avoid triggering compliance with candidate election laws is a contributing factor in Biden’s reluctance to definitively announce his intentions.
However, advisers point out that Biden’s claim that he is a “great respecter of fate” is less of a ploy than first appears.
One person with long-standing close ties to Biden said, “When you’ve been through what he’s been through the last five decades, personally and politically, that’s not a BS answer.” They cited the family tragedies that play a central role in the president’s worldview. However, no one is more aware of the things you cannot control.
Having said that, the individual made the observation that “the way things have aligned certainly drives a view that his theory of the case has been on the mark.”
a change in Biden’s story
A significant change at the end of last year gave senior White House staffers hope. Even though a new House Republican majority was set to freeze broader White House legislative ambitions, the core of Biden’s agenda had been signed into law, laying out a road map for tangible accomplishments to highlight in the coming months.
Even though some Democratic reservations are still present, albeit in a significantly less public form, predictions of a political demise that was almost certain to occur appeared to be greatly exaggerated.
One House Democrat stated, “A lot of things went right at the right time to end the year the way we did.” I support him, but I worry that they overestimate how responsible they are for what happened.
Nonetheless, the results of the midterm election have marked a significant turning point, if not in Biden’s actual decision-making process, which is only known to a select few people who are close to the president, then in the general perception of whether Biden intends to run for a second term.
A person who was familiar with the dynamics disclosed this to CNN: “There was a feeling that our folks could finally exhale.” It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in our plans or theory of the case; rather, they didn’t think it would be successful politically. Now that we have evidence, it did exactly that.
An economy that they believe has transitioned from a period of historically rapid recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic to a level of consistent durability are two examples of the evidence that the advisers point to. They believe that consistency comes from tangible signs that the soaring inflation that plagued his second year in office has begun to recede.
Some claimed that the long-standing belief among Biden’s closest allies that he has consistently been underestimated, even during the most recent presidential election, only served to exacerbate this sense of vindication.
A senior administration official stated, “especially after the midterms, the widely held belief about Biden’s political future solidified into: ” Naturally, he is running.
It is not necessary for Biden’s team to rush an announcement.
Some of Biden’s advisers privately hoped for a decision and announcement by the middle of January earlier this year because they thought it was important to inform fellow Democrats, including those who support their own presidential ambitions, of Biden’s intentions.
However, in the nearly two months since the midterm elections in November, Biden has made it clear in both public and private conversations what he intends to do, and nearly every Democrat thought to be a potential candidate has stated that they will not run if Biden enters the race.
Aides have also kept a close eye on the lackluster start to former President Donald Trump’s third run for president, believing it demonstrates that there is no pressing need to make a decision immediately.
As the Democratic National Committee has continued its extensive efforts to compile research on potential challengers, Biden’s advisers have kept a close eye on other likely top-tier Republican candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
However, there is a perception that those Republicans will spend the following year strongly to the right in order to compete in the GOP primary. This will provide Democrats with ample areas of contrast or attack against whoever wins the general election.
Even though Biden recently stated that he wants to make his decision public early in the new year, many people who know him well doubt that the president will meet that goal. They point to the numerous self-imposed deadlines he has missed in the past, such as his considerations regarding whether or not to run for president in the 2020 election and major policy announcements.
Regarding the possibility of Biden disclosing his official decision in the first month of 2023, a high-ranking administration official responded, “No way.” Joe Biden enjoys extending things.
Although Biden is expected to make his announcement earlier than that—possibly by the end of February—his team has cited former President Barack Obama’s announcement of his reelection in April 2011 as a point of reference.