WASHINGTON: US president Joe Biden may announce his re-election campaign by video as soon as Tuesday, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday, setting the stage for a possible rematch with his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.
A Tuesday announcement by Biden, 80, would come four years to the day after his 2020 campaign launch. One of the sources on Thursday cautioned that the exact timing could change.
“We’ll announce it relatively soon,” Biden told reporters last Friday of his campaign announcement. “I told you my plan is to run again.”
Biden is the oldest person to have occupied the White House and would be 86 at the end of a second four-year term. He has struggled with low public approval ratings, with a Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Sunday showing that just 39% of Americans approve of his job performance.
The White House and the Democratic National Committee declined to comment on the timing of the announcement.
Republicans have not yet picked their candidate for the Nov 5, 2024, presidential election, but polls show Trump leads a pack of declared and undeclared Republican candidates that include Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former vice-president Mike Pence and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley.
While Biden faces little serious competition for the Democratic nomination, 45% of Democrats responding to a March Reuters/Ipsos poll said they thought he should not run again in 2024, with 48% saying he should.
Civility and appointment
Biden plans to campaign on his record in the 27 months since he took over from Trump.
That includes winning Congress’ approval for billions of dollars in federal funds to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and for infrastructure, restoring what his supporters see as civility to the White House and overseeing the lowest levels of unemployment since 1969, although a 40-year high in inflation has marred his economic record.
He faces potential economic headwinds including a showdown in the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives over a US$31.4 trillion debt ceiling that risks a default that would shake global markets and could cause a US recession.
Biden’s Democrats also face difficult US Senate elections in 2024, when they will be defending seats in Republican-leaning states including West Virginia, Ohio and Montana. They hold a narrow 51-49 majority in that chamber.
Republicans won a House majority in last year’s midterm election, bringing Biden’s legislative agenda to a shuddering halt.
In recent weeks, Biden has laid out the likely themes of a re-election bid in political speeches, secured a doctor’s note that he is “fit for duty,” told Democrats to reorder the party’s primary calendar in a manner favouring his nomination and picked Chicago as the city where he would ostensibly formally become the nominee next year.
Biden is expected to meet next week with top volunteer fundraisers from his last campaign. Donors would be key to what might be the most expensive US presidential election to date. They would also show that Biden’s strongest supporters have overcome doubts about his age and prospects in another gruelling race.
Unlike the heavily virtual 2020 campaign due to the pandemic, a 2024 campaign would require him to travel to the handful of key states spread across the country that are expected to again be competitive, from Arizona to Pennsylvania.
After losing by seven million votes to Biden in 2020, Trump refused to concede defeat, falsely claiming widespread electoral fraud.
His supporters stormed the US Capitol building in Washington DC on Jan 6, 2021, in support of his claims but failed to halt Congress’ certification of Biden’s win.
Biden is expected to remind voters of these actions, while lauding his handling of the pandemic economic recovery, especially the strength of the US labour market.
Biden has used recent political events to attack Trump-aligned “MAGA” Republicans for trying to undo his legislative victories, but he has largely avoided directly speaking about the legal woes facing Trump.