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WORLD | 25-04-2023 11:45

Biden makes it official: he’s running again in 2024

President Joe Biden formally announced that he would seek reelection in 2024, readying a historic campaign against a Republican field dominated by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

President Joe Biden formally announced that he would seek reelection in 2024, readying a historic campaign against a Republican field dominated by his predecessor while economic uncertainty clouds his case for a second term.

Biden, 80, implored voters to let him “finish this job” he began when he took office and put aside any worries about his age. He said there is still work to do to give Americans a “fair shot” and beat back “extremists” in the Republican Party who want to cut government spending and curb abortion rights.

“The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom,” Biden said in a video released Tuesday. “I know what I want the answer to be and I think you do too. This is not a time to be complacent. That’s why I’m running for reelection.”

Already the oldest person ever elected US president, Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term and faces intense scrutiny about his fitness to serve another four years in the White House. His kick-off message shows he is betting that voters will reward him for his decades of experience and record, while looking past age concerns.

Biden had long said he intended to seek a second term, making the official announcement somewhat of a foregone conclusion. He hadn’t felt pressure to declare his candidacy earlier because he faced no serious opposition for the Democratic Party’s nomination, his advisers said, even though polls showed large numbers of Democrats prefer he not run again in part because of his age.

The Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the November midterm elections quieted talk of a significant primary challenge. Former President Donald Trump, who has galvanised Democrats, has emerged as the clear GOP frontrunner, further bolstering Biden’s case to run again.

Still, the nation’s deep political divide likely means a tough campaign for Biden, even if Trump emerges as the GOP nominee, despite the former president facing a criminal indictment in New York and scrutiny over his role during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection that could lead to more charges.

Biden’s announcement came on the fourth anniversary of when he declared his presidential campaign in 2019 on a promise to restore the “soul of America,” but a rematch against Trump could prove even more bruising than their initial 2020 battle.

Biden’s announcement allows him to kick off fundraising for the race, which will likely require even more money than his 2020 campaign, the first in US history to raise $1 billion. He has also assembled an initial team of advisers to lead his reelection operation.

Biden chose Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a senior White House official and veteran of the 2020 campaign, to manage his 2024 campaign. Quentin Fulks, who managed Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock’s 2022 reelection campaign, will be her deputy. The president’s selection of a Latina and Black man to lead his campaign is notable, given that his inner circle in the White House, which will play large role in the campaign, is almost entirely White.

Senator Chris Coons, from Biden’s home state of Delaware, and South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn, both longtime allies of Biden in Congress, will serve as campaign co-chairs. That group also includes Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a rising Democratic star, and Hollywood mogul and Democratic megadonor Jeffrey Katzenberg.

To encourage campaign contributions, top donors are invited to special events this week, including a Friday night dinner with Biden and meetings Saturday with senior members of his team, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Biden’s reelection run will stand in stark contrast to his experience in 2020, when his campaign faltered before Democrats came to believe he was best suited to defeat Trump and coalesced around him. He then drastically kerbed in-person events because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The president enters this race virtually undisputed as the Democratic standard bearer. His only declared opponents are self-help author Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Other potential contenders have thrown their support behind Biden.

Kamala Harris, a potential Biden successor who has come under fire from some Democrats for her performance as vice president, will reprise her role as Biden’s running mate.

But this time, Biden will have to manage an intense campaign schedule while also running the country. His most urgent task is a stand-off with Republicans over raising the US debt limit. The president so far has refused to negotiate with the GOP, whom he has accused of holding the economy hostage over their demands for spending cuts in exchange.

If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, the US could default on its debt for the first time, which could trigger a major recession, as well as widespread political fallout.

The public will blame Republicans for their brinkmanship, the president’s aides say, and that his record of passing major legislation on infrastructure, climate, health care and chip manufacturing contrasts well with the GOP’s agenda. Republicans, at the same time, have blamed the president’s policies for fuelling inflation, which has persisted despite multiple Federal Reserve rate hikes.

Trump preemptively attacked Biden in a statement Monday before the announcement over his handling of the economy, inflation, the Afghanistan withdrawal and immigration. The former president repeated the false claim that he lost to Biden in 2020 because the election was “rigged.”

The Republican roster remains dominated by Trump, who has maintained his grip over the party despite some officials who want to see him step aside in favour of new leadership. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, his top rival, has suffered multiple setbacks in recent weeks as Trump has surged in polls and as donors and lawmakers openly question DeSantis’s viability.

Other GOP candidates include Trump’s former United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are also considering a run.

by Jordan Fabian, Bloomberg

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