When Nancy Pelosi left office, she already had someone in mind to take her place. What comes after President Biden is a lot less clear. A few days after his 80th birthday, President Joe Biden got his family together on Nantucket to talk seriously about his plans for 2024.
The talks are happening a week after 82-year-old House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “The time has come for a new generation to lead.” Those words were similar to what Biden said when he ran for president. Back then, he called himself a “transition candidate” who would bring stability to the White House and pass the torch to younger leaders.
But that’s the past. Now, it looks more and more like Biden isn’t ready to step aside just yet. Even though there has been tension in the Democratic Party about making a generational change, Biden’s future seems to be tied to Donald Trump, whom he defeated in 2020 and called a threat to American democracy.
The former president has already announced his campaign for the 2024 election, and Vice President Biden has made it clear in private conversations that he feels he is the only Democrat who has a chance of defeating President Trump a second time. And although there was a clear path to succeeding Pelosi in the House of Representatives, many who are close to Biden say that the race to follow him is somewhat less clear.
Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley questioned why the former president would step down at this time. “He does not appear to have a clear successor, and Trump is what matters here.” Many Democrats believe that Joe Biden can defeat Donald Trump again because of his previous success.
The average Washington resident is now well into their senior years. The nation’s first man in his 80s to assume the office of vice president, Joe Biden, is also the oldest to ever serve in that capacity. And he does not stand alone in the corridors of power; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is 71 years old, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 80 years old, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 83 old, to name a few of his senior citizen peers. Plus, Trump is 76 years old himself.
Following Pelosi’s announcement, Hoyer decided to step down from his leadership position, thereby paving the way for a group of legislators who are several decades younger. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, 52 years old and hails from New York, is widely seen as Pelosi’s likely successor as Democratic leader.
However, due to her party’s descent into the minority, Pelosi has decided to step down. It is certain that Vice President Biden will continue to serve as his party’s nominee for president in 2024. If he did so, he would fight for reelection on the coattails of an impressive legislative record and midterm results that exceeded the expectations of the Democratic party.
Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, said that the midterm elections “reiterated the notion that competent and effective government is a priority of a majority of voters, above anything else.” Aides to Biden in 2020 were aware that the candidate’s advanced age was a potential problem and briefly explored committing to serve only one term in office. That argument was rejected. On the other hand, Biden proposed himself to younger Democrats as a “bridge.”
During an online fundraiser, he said, “I see myself as a transition candidate.” This meant that he would help train the next generation of leaders. “You have to get more ready-to-play players on the bench, telling the coach, “Put me in, I’m ready to play.” Well, many people, both men and women, are ready to play.”
But it is harder to leave the White House once it feels like home. And Biden has been trying to get into the office for almost half his life. He ran for president for the first time in 1988.
People close to Biden think he will run again for president for several reasons. He has led several legislative victories, such as a bipartisan infrastructure bill and measures that enshrined Democratic priorities on climate change and health care. He is also leading the West’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and this month the Democrats kept the Senate and stopped a Republican wave in the House.
Trump is another example. Two years ago, the party came together around Biden as a safe choice. He wasn’t the most exciting candidate, but the party thought he had the best chance of beating Trump, especially as an epidemic broke out. Even though polls show that many in the party want him to step down, many important Democrats think he should keep going.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) recently told POLITICO, “He wasn’t my first or second choice for president, but I’m a convert.” “I never thought I’d say this, but he should run again and finish what we set out to do.” Jeffries, who represents the new leaders in the House, also supported: “I hope President Biden will run for reelection, and I’m looking forward to helping him.”
Few people in Washington think that if Biden didn’t run, the field would be clear for Vice President Kamala Harris, which could lead to a rough primary battle. But some Democrats want a change, even if it’s not perfect.
Tim Ryan, running for the Senate in Ohio, has avoided the president at campaign events this year. In recent months, he has called on Biden to step down in the name of “generational change.” Other Democrats aren’t as sure about how well Biden will do against Republicans who aren’t Trump.
But parties rarely run against a president who is already in office. When they do, like when Ronald Reagan ran against Gerald Ford in 1976, and Ted Kennedy ran against Jimmy Carter four years later, the primary challenges almost always hurt the president already in office. It is also rare for a president not to run for reelection. When they do, it is usually because of an outside crisis, like the Cold War/Korean War for Harry Truman or the Vietnam War for Lyndon Johnson.
Even though Biden’s poll numbers aren’t great, he beats Trump in made-up matchups. Trump is a significant threat to Biden’s family, and first lady Jill Biden, who is said to be warming up to the idea of a reelection run, will be a crucial figure in the talks. Aides are taking steps to prepare for another run, but a final decision on whether or not to run again probably won’t be made for months.
Since Biden announced in 2019 that he was running for president for the third time, there has been a lot of talk about his age inside the Beltway. Since he was vice president, he had grown older. His stride had also gotten shorter and slower, and the broken foot he got while playing with one of his dogs during the change didn’t help. People who know him well say that he has always made mistakes with his words, and now he gets tired more quickly.
Even though Trump is known for his rhetorical gaffes, he already tried to use Biden’s age against him in their first debate, calling him “Sleepy Joe” and saying he was no longer with it. However, this didn’t have much of an effect. Republicans have kept going after Biden, repeatedly saying that he is not fit to be president.
Biden’s advisers think that the 2020 race was about the age of the current president, who would be 86 when he leaves office if he served a full second term. They also think voters have become more comfortable with older people in positions of power, whether in politics or business. Officials at the White House said he would get a regular physical in the coming months.
In Biden’s most recent exam, which took place in November of last year, his doctor said that he “remains fit for duty and does all of his jobs without any exceptions or accommodations.”
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