President Biden plans to use some time during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays to decide whether he wants to run for reelection, surrounding himself with family as he assesses his political future while giving himself a deadline early next year to officially announce.
Biden, who just turned 80, remains in the minds of many Democrats the party’s best shot at retaining the White House in 2024. Yet he is weighing his next steps at a time when several party contemporaries have left office. direction to make room. for a new generation of leaders.
For Biden, securing a stronger-than-expected midterm result for Democrats is certainly a big factor in the decision, along with the possibility of a rematch against former President Trump. And while the White House has been insisting on Biden’s plans to run again for months, the president has left the door open for a final decision after talking with his family over the holidays.
“He plans to run. He said himself… that he was going to have a private conversation with his family,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday.
“I’m certainly not going to explain what this conversation could look like or potentially be,” she added. “It’s clearly the president’s prerogative to have that conversation with his family, to make that decision.”
A Biden announcement in early 2023 would align with new, younger faces in Democratic leadership positions. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), 82, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), 83, said this month they would no longer run for office of leadership, paving the way for young Democrats to lead the party’s efforts. in a new minority in the House.
Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, said Pelosi and Hoyer stepping down when the House swung this month won’t prevent Biden from running for another term.
“They are no longer in charge of the House. It was the perfect time for them to retire. I don’t think there’s any correlation between Hoyer and Pelosi stepping back from any decision-making for Biden,” he said. “Presidents have almost always sought re-election, regardless of 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 vacant seats in presidential elections and only once has the party controlling the White House won – in 1988, when then-Vice President George HW Bush was elected to replace the President Reagan after Reagan’s second term.
“Democrats don’t want an open seat and don’t want one party fighting for the nomination,” Lichtman said.
The favorite in the running to become the next House Democratic leader is Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. At 52, the New York lawmaker is significantly younger than current leaders, though political observers don’t think it would be a problem for the president to work with him.
Jeffries was a top campaign surrogate for Biden in the 2020 election, and Biden typically takes on a mentoring role to younger Democrats and works well with them, such as with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, some have pointed out.
Still, Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton, said young Democratic leaders will step up conversations about Biden’s age.
“That means his age will be amplified, the contrast to younger Democrats more pronounced, which will fuel conversations about what he should be doing in 2024,” Zelizer said. “That said, 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 increasingly matters, the president’s supporters see attacks on him based on his age as unfair.
Democrats are broadly in favor of Biden running again, seeing no good alternative for him, even given his age. And that sentiment was reinforced by the Democrats’ midterm performance.
Biden also still has many prominent contemporaries in politics.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who will remain in his role, is the same age as Biden at 80. And Trump, who launched another White House bid this month, is 76.
While many say Trump’s campaign won’t play a big role in Biden’s decision to run again, Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian at New York University, argued that part of the reason for which Biden might want to run for a second term is to take Trump back. .
“Does the country still need him to prevent another Trump presidency? I think that’s why Joe Biden showed up, it was to stop Trump, and I suspect if you ask President Biden, in addition [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, what are the big concerns he has for our republic, it’s going to be the return of Donald Trump,” he said.
Without Trump’s candidacy, Biden could be forced to step down, he added. And he noted that Biden had made significant achievements in a single term, particularly through his work 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 defense of Ukrainian surveillance – and perhaps even if the war is over by 2024 – then Joe Biden will have achieved great things. “, said Naftali.
Lichtman of American University, however, argued that Biden’s accomplishments, in addition to Democrats retaining control of the Senate, make Biden even more attractive to seek another term.
“Certainly the appeal of Joe Biden’s announcement is bolstered by the Democrats’ better-than-expected performance,” he said. “Joe Biden hasn’t gotten nearly the credit he should for his administration.”
Amie Parnes contributed to this report.