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White House says Biden planning to run again in 2024

Speculation has mounted in recent days that US president, who just turned 79 and is suffering from low popularity numbers, will not seek reelection

President Joe Biden greets a young child US during a visit to Fort Bragg to mark the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Fort Bragg, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Joe Biden greets a young child US during a visit to Fort Bragg to mark the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, in Fort Bragg, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden plans to run for reelection in 2024, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters traveling on Air Force One on Monday, according to Reuters.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks as to whether Biden, who turned 79 this week, would seek reelection with his popularity numbers dropping dramatically in recent months.

“He is. That’s his intention,” Psaki said as Biden flew for a Thanksgiving event with troops in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Biden passed one major test this week — concerns about his health and age.

He got a clean bill of health from the White House doctor on Friday after undergoing an extensive, routine checkup during which his powers were briefly transferred to Vice President Kamala Harris.

“The President remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief,” Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician, wrote.

US President Joe Biden greets White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and her family during the 74th annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon of Peanut Butter the turkey in the Rose Garden of the White House November 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

The detailed report said that Biden did have “perceptibly stiffer and less fluid” motion while walking than a year ago, and suffered “increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during public speaking engagements.”

Nevertheless, Democrats have expressed concerns in recent weeks that Biden’s political standing is so weak less than a year into his presidency that he may not be able to win reelection in 2024 if he were to run again.

Such anxiety-fueled parlor games are common among Washington’s political class, but this one has spread to the states and constituencies that will play a central role in the next presidential election.

Harris is facing her own political conundrum, with polls suggesting she may be less popular than her unpopular boss. A dynamic leader who made history by becoming the first Black woman and first person of South Asian descent to step into her office, Harris has been given few opportunities by the Biden White House to shine.

As Biden struggles, speculation has intensified about the shortlist of would-be successors should he not seek reelection, although the 79-year-old president has said publicly and privately that he will. The list is led by Harris, of course, but includes other 2020 presidential candidates such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Just last week, Booker announced plans to appear at a party fundraiser next month in New Hampshire, which traditionally hosts the nation’s first presidential primary election.

Booker’s team sought to tamp down chatter that he was positioning himself to run in 2024, and allies say he is very close to Harris and would not challenge her in the event Biden retires. Still, the mere existence of such conversations so soon into a new presidency is unusual.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Tribal Nations Summit in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, in Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The frustrations boiling over now may be long forgotten by the time Biden — or another Democrat — leads the party in the 2024 presidential election. The truth is, no one knows what the standing of Biden or Harris will be next year, never mind in three years. While Biden’s approval ratings are hovering in the low 40s, they are better than Donald Trump’s at the same time of his presidency.

Barack Obama also faced headwinds at the end of the first year of his presidency. His party would go on to suffer historic losses in the 2010 midterm elections. But Obama recovered in time to win a second term. Bill Clinton similarly overcame setbacks, including a devastating midterm cycle in 1994, to win reelection in 1996.

Noting that Biden has declared his intent to run publicly and privately, his aides say the Democratic National Committee and Biden’s political team inside the White House are actively moving forward with the assumption he will seek a second term.

They believe Biden’s position will improve as voters digest the new infrastructure law and the $2 trillion social spending and climate bill currently moving through Congress. Already, the DNC and its allies are focusing significant resources on selling the Democrats’ accomplishments in key states before the 2022 midterm elections — states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin that will also be top battlegrounds in the 2024 presidential election.

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