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President Biden has repeatedly said he intends to run for re-election in 2024.
But as the president and his party face a rough political climate fueled in part by his own deeply negative approval ratings, and amid a rising tide of polls indicating that a majority of Democrats don’t want him to seek a second term and an increasing number of editorial pieces are urging Biden not to run again, some other prominent Democrats who may have White House ambitions are raising their national profiles.
Among them are big state Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois.
While both Newsom and Pritzker have said they wouldn’t mount a primary challenge to the president if he seeks a second term, both have been grabbing headlines from coast to coast this summer.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom talks with reporters after a meeting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in the U.S. Capitol, on Friday, July 15, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Newsom’s trolling of Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbot of Texas – two potential GOP 2024 contenders – with ads in their respective states ignited outsized media attention.
And Pritzker’s recent headlining of the Florida Democrats’ annual Leadership Blue Gala, and his June trip to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire to keynote the state Democratic Party’s annual convention also didn’t go unnoticed. Fox News also learned that Pritzker quietly met with some Democratic power players during his New Hampshire visit.
“It does seem a little bit like sharks circling the chum,” a New England-based Democratic consultant said recently when asked about Pritzker’s stops in New Hampshire. The consultant, who asked for anonymity to speak more freely, argued that “many of these potential candidates are testing the waters.”
Pritzker and Newsom have also earned plaudits the past couple of months for their forceful comments regarding the recent spate of mass shootings, and for their support for legalized abortion in the wake of the move by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which threw the contentious issue back to the states. The praise they earned from some in the Democratic base stood in contrast to a handful of complaints over Biden’s less forceful responses on gun violence and abortion.
The 79-year-old Biden has said numerous times that if he remains healthy, he’ll run for re-election.
“If I’m in the health I’m in now, if I’m in good health, then in fact, I would run again,” the president said in an interview with ABC News in December.
And during his recent trip to the Middle East, Biden said “I would not be disappointed,” when asked about a potential 2024 rematch with former President Donald Trump, whom Biden defeated two years ago to win the White House.
Regardless, there’s been plenty of chatter and speculation for over a year regarding whether the president will run for re-election in 2024. Biden made history in 2020 when he became the oldest person ever elected president. If he campaigns for re-election in 2024 and wins, Biden would be 82 at his second inaugural and 86 at the end of his second term.
A slew of recent polls has indicated that a majority of Americans don’t want Biden – or the 76-year-old Trump – to run in 2024. But unlike Trump, whom the polls indicate retains majority support from Republicans to make another bid for the White House, the surveys suggest that most Democrats don’t want Biden to seek a second term.
President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One for travel to Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, March 11, 2022. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
A recent New York Times/Siena College poll indicated that 64% of Democratic voters would like to see a different candidate in 2024, and a Quinnipiac University survey showed that 54% of Democrats questioned said they didn’t want the president to run again.
This summer’s also witnessed numerous editorial pieces in major national publications urging the president to avoid campaigning for a second term. The most recent – published Sunday in the Washington Post – came from former New York Newsday publisher Steven Isenberg and was headlined “Quit, Joe, Quit! Biden could save the midterms with a one-term pledge.”
Compounding the president’s recent troubles was his testing positive last week for COVID-19. The diagnosis scrapped the president’s planned trip last Thursday to Pennsylvania to highlight his plans to increase police funding, and also derailed two scheduled stops on Monday in Florida to meet with law enforcement and help raise money for fellow Democrats.
If Biden changed course and ruled out a 2024 run, Vice President Kamala Harris would instantly become the front-runner for the next Democratic presidential nomination. But it’s unlikely the vice president, suffering from well underwater approval ratings, would clear the field.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks in Orlando, Florida, July 14, 2022. President Biden has insisted he will run for re-election, but should he decide to step aside, a host of younger Democrats could be in contention, including Harris, who is 57. (AP)
But Harris, who’s said she expects the president to seek a second term, has appeared to pick up her political profile this summer and has taken a lead in speaking out against the high court’s abortion ruling as she aims to energize the Democratic base ahead of November’s midterm elections.
On Monday, the vice president headed to Indiana to highlight her push for legalized abortion as the red state’s legislature debates a newly proposed ban on abortions.
“This should be that woman’s decision, not the government telling her what to do with her body or her life,” Harris told reporters upon arriving in Indiana. “The government should not tell somebody else what they should do. It should be a personal decision based on what people value and what they hold dear.”
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.