The oldest US president turns 80 on Sunday, becoming the first octogenarian in the Oval Office.
Biden allies say his proven ability to beat Trump should not be overlooked.
But polls show that many Americans are looking for different – and younger – leadership.
As his contemporaries in the House pass the torch to a new generation of Democratic leaders, President Joe Biden faces a monumental decision whether to do the same or continue in 2024, while his “predecessor” and nemesis simply don’t want to go. away.
Biden, the oldest US president, will turn 80 on Sunday, making him the first 80-year-old in office. He will no doubt enjoy moments with family at a brunch his wife Jill will host the day after his granddaughter’s wedding on the South Lawn of the White House.
But the president and first lady will soon start discussing his next steps in earnest, just as polls indicate that many Americans are looking for different – and younger – leadership.
Despite Biden’s objections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, announced Thursday that she would not seek re-election as Democratic leadership at the next Congress because “the hour has come for a new generation.”
Biden has spent half a century in federal politics and public life, but the hour may not be near for him, for reasons that include former president and now 2024 presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“He knows he can beat Trump,” Jim Moran, a former Democratic House member from Virginia, told Insider. “As long as Trump remains a viable Republican nominee, Joe wants to be there to represent the values, not just of the Democratic Party, but of America’s broad working class, who don’t relate easily to what they feel are the overly liberal, too awake urban elitists in the big cities.”
If Biden felt that Trump’s Republican electorate was moving toward another candidate, “that could potentially influence Joe’s decision,” he said.
When faced with questions about his age, Biden likes to say “watch me.”
“Someone said my birthday is coming up, and I said, ‘No, that must be someone else,'” he joked at a political rally in New York this month.
Biden also said on the Willie Moore Jr. Show that he “can’t even say that number, 80.”
“I’m serious,” he said. “I don’t feel it any more if I… came out from behind this desk and flew.”
Biden has said he intends to run again, though he often adds that he has a “great respect for destiny.” He said he expects to make a decision early next year.
“This is ultimately a family decision,” he said at a news conference on Nov. 9. “I think everyone wants me to run… We’re going to have discussions about it. And I don’t feel any rush one way or another… to make that judgment today, tomorrow, anytime, no matter what the – my predecessor does.”
Biden has made it clear that he views the twice-imposed president, who is under investigation at the state and federal levels, and his MAGA supporters as a threat to democracy. As Trump tossed Biden as he announced his third presidential bid, Biden responded with a video detailing the lows of Trump’s record at Twitterwriting “Donald Trump has failed America.”
Biden’s sense of obligation to run for re-election “would be even greater” with Trump in the race given what he would be like if reelected, said a Biden friend and former staffer, who declined to be named to speak out candidly to speak . “The commitment would be catastrophic, existential and monumental,” the friend told Insider in an August interview.
Most Democrats and Republicans, including independents leaning towards these parties, do not see Biden or Trump as their party’s strongest candidates for 2024, according to a recent Marist poll. And a Reuters/Ipsos poll this month found that 46% of Democrats said Biden may not be up to the challenge of participating in 2024, while 26% said the same of Trump, who is 76. The poll found that 86% of Americans believe the cutoff for serving as president should be 75 or younger.
Democrats seem to have more faith in Biden and his leadership than before the midterm elections, though the issue of his age will continue to act as a “headwind,” Chris Jackson, a senior vice president at Ipsos, told Insider. “There’s no opposition from the left saying, ‘No, it’s great that we have this elderly gentleman as president’ to push against the right, because he says, ‘No, he’s too old,'” he said.
On Friday, the progressive “Don’t Run Joe” campaign issued a birthday salute to Biden, urging him not to run for re-election. The group, which opposes him on the basis of job performance, says it has begun grassroots outreach in New Hampshire and will expand to other primary states.
But Biden’s allies have long said that his well-known ability to beat Trump cannot be overlooked.
“If our focus is on winning, going with the guy who knows how to beat Donald Trump is a pretty smart game,” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, previously told Insider.
For his part, Moran said, “Age is a state of mind.”
“As long as this country moves forward and does the right thing at home and abroad, I don’t give a damn how old he is,” he added.
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