Biden says he plans to run for reelection in 2024, but here’s a lesson from a reporter from 2008 on why anything is possible


To dance. Joe Biden, D-Del., at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, on the day of the Iowa primary on January 3, 2008.Mark Hirsch/TBEN Photos

  • In 2008, Joe Biden spoke to reporter Nicole Gaudiano about his political future.

  • It didn’t turn out as he predicted.

  • Now he says he wants to run for re-election in 2024. Can his plans change?

President Joe Biden says he plans to be re-elected in 2024, but I know better than to make predictions about his next steps. I learned a lesson from beating his underdog presidential bid of 2008: Anything is possible.

Biden spoke to me several times about his plans for the Iowa Democratic presidential election in January of that year. He told me he would continue his campaign that day, at least until the end of the month, “whatever happens,” the Iowa caucus-goers decided.

He passed out hours later.

He said there was no chance he would become vice president.

Yes, there was eventually.

And he told me he “had no intention of running to the White House again.”


Years later, I take Biden at his word that if he stays in good health, he will be running again in 2024. I bet that’s his intention now, and Biden allies have told me that the soon-to-be 80-year-old president is still motivated by his agenda, his obligation to the country, and doing everything he can to prevent former President Donald Trump returns to the Oval Office.

It sure sounds like he will run. The White House says he plans to. But can his plans change?

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I’m only asking because on January 3, 2008, I was the young reporter who plopped down near a hot dog stand at the Polk County Convention Center in Des Moines so I could express what I thought was great news about his plans to stay in the race, only to see the value of that story disappear in a matter of hours.

At the time, I was Gannett’s Washington correspondent for The News Journal, Biden’s home newspaper in Wilmington, Delaware. Bestselling Blackhawk Down author Mark Bowden later described me in a story for The Atlantic as having “covered Biden’s petty campaign for one of the few newspapers still interested.”

“You’ve seen the crowd. They’re real,” Biden told me that afternoon.

At that stage, it was true that Biden’s crowd had grown, but their numbers could only increase. Over there used to be a particularly large crowd in August at the LumberKings minor league baseball field in Iowa. However, they were there for Hillary Clinton and began to leave when it was Biden’s turn to speak.

Biden continued: “This is my last run for the White House,” adding that he was “uniquely qualified” to lead the country at the time. “I understand that if people conclude that it isn’t, I respect that. I can die a happy man without hearing ‘Hail to the Chief’.”

Now he calls that song a “great tune,” even if he says he feels “a little self-conscious” hearing it.

It was actually news in 2008 — at least for several hours — that Biden promised to continue his campaign through the end of the month as his outlook looked so bleak ahead of the caucus night against Clinton’s star power. , John Edwards and Barack Obama, who eventually won that contest.

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He had said until then that it would take fourth or better in Iowa to keep him in the race. But that afternoon he told me that at the end of the first four games he would “sit down and say, ‘Okay, am I in this or am I not in this?'”

He finished in fifth place, with less than 1%. I caught up with him as he huddled with friends and family after swimming out of the race, left the podium and made his way through the crowd to the ballroom exit.

“I wouldn’t be vice president for anyone. Period of time. End of story.’

Joe Biden Barack Obama

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama at a signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

He told me he didn’t expect so many of the votes to be consumed by the frontrunners and he knew then he couldn’t raise any more money. He went back to the Senate to hold hearings and hold people to account as chairman of the foreign relations committee.

Any chance for vice president? I asked.

“No,” he said. “Look, I can. If we have a Democratic president, I can have a lot more influence, I promise you,” he chuckled, “as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.”

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When asked if he wanted to become Secretary of State, he at first rejected the idea, but then seemed to open the door just a little bit: “I should be convinced that the candidate, the Democratic president, we really are the same shared opinion,” he said.

Of course I noted that opening in my story. Did it yield anything? No.

Given Biden’s difficulties in getting noticed, I had asked him earlier in the campaign, while traveling with him in Iowa, if he was pursuing other options than the presidency. He shot them down completely, even calling on General William Tecumseh Sherman.

“Absolutely, positively, unequivocally, Shermanesque, no,” he said at the time. ‘No. No. Under no circumstances would I be anyone’s secretary of state, and I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t be vice president of anyone. Point. End of story. Guaranteed. Won’t do it.’

Mark Bowden later asked Biden, then vice president, in his West Wing office about that marathon quote. He wrote that Biden “leaned back, folded his big hands in front of him and shrugged.”

“That was absolutely true when I said it,” Biden told him. “I swear to God. Ask anyone. I never, never, never, never aspired to be vice president. It had nothing to do with who the hell the president was.”

In his story about Biden called “The Salesman,” Bowden wrote that he believed him. “Both quotes, from the campaign trail and from the White House, are so prototypical Biden: direct, serious, forceful, earthy, exaggerated – note the triple no in the first and the quadruple never in the second – and finally, as evidenced by negotiable,” he wrote.

I agree Biden meant what he said when he said it, Bidenesquely.

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