US waits (and waits) on Biden reelection bid announcement

Sebastian Smith - Agence France-Presse
US waits (and waits) on Biden reelection bid announcement
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on his Safer America Plan at the Marts Center on August 30, 2022 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. President Biden visited Wilkes-Barre to speak on the passage of his bipartisan gun safety legislation earlier this year after massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. The initial trip was cancelled after the president tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images / AFP

WASHINGTON, United States — If President Joe Biden's 2024 reelection campaign were an airliner, he'd have finished fueling, received clearance from air traffic control -- and, to the frustration of his passengers, still be sitting on the ground.

For months, the White House has been teasing an announcement that Biden will run again in 2024. Also for months, the White House has refused to confirm that he will.

The latest strong hint that Biden is ready for lift off -- yet as usual leaving wiggle room -- came from First Lady Jill Biden in a series of interviews with US media during a visit to Namibia and Kenya last week.

Asked by CNN if anything could now prevent Biden from running, she said: "Not in my book."

Asked by the Associated Press if everything was set, she replied: "Pretty much."

But she also told CNN -- in keeping with the Biden camp's keep-them-on-their-toes strategy -- "nothing's been planned as yet."

Usually there is little drama around the question of whether an incumbent president seeks a second term. Politicians aren't exactly known for stepping aside voluntarily and all the less so when it comes to giving up the awesome power -- and opportunity -- of the Oval Office.

In Biden's case, the one real X-factor is age.

At 80, the Democrat is already the oldest person ever to be president. He'd be 82 by the start of a second term and 86 at the end.

By contrast, Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left at the end of two terms.


Biden has long had the reputation of favoring deliberations over spur-of-the-moment gestures.

His silence on the reelection bid has been interpreted by some as personal indecisiveness and by others as the result of agonizing among aides and family over the age issue.

But judging by statements from Biden, the delay instead reflects a desire to work through a sort of checklist -- clearing the decks for action.

The intention "has been from the beginning to run. But there's too many other things we have to finish in the near term before I start a campaign," he told ABC News last week.

The outlines of that list appear clear.

On February 7, Biden delivered a State of the Union address before Congress, focusing on domestic issues -- from large scale efforts to reignite the manufacturing base to populist measures like promising to get rid of annoying hidden fees added to concert and airline tickets.

"We've been sent here to finish the job," he said, sounding every bit like someone rehearsing their campaign platform.

On February 16, another box got ticked: the results of Biden's annual health check-up. The White House doctor declared him "healthy, vigorous" and "fit" to serve.

A week later, Biden made a surprise trip to wartime Kyiv, followed by a rousing speech in neighboring Poland. Tick box number three.

There may not be much more left to do.

One possible item is the March 9 release of Biden's proposed budget, giving voters a detailed picture of where he would spend the nation's money. It's an issue with particular resonance this year as Democrats wrestle with the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives over the federal debt.

But in historical terms, Biden faces no pressure to rush.

Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton announced their reelection bids in April, while George W. Bush went for May. The recent outlier -- as in so much else -- is Donald Trump who effectively began running for reelection as soon as he took office in 2017 and also announced his 2024 bid late last year, well ahead of Republican rivals.

For now, passengers waiting for Air Biden to be wheels up will have to rely on the captain's messages on the intercom -- or at least Twitter.

Like Monday's tweet, which could just as easily be the script for some upbeat campaign video of the near future: "When I travel the country, I see optimism for this year and the years ahead."

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