President Joe Biden formally announced his bid for reelection Tuesday, setting off a battle to convince the country his record merits another four years in the White House and his age won’t impede his ability to govern.
In a video released early Tuesday, Biden framed next year’s contest as a fight against Republican extremism, implicitly arguing he needed more time to fully realize his vow to restore the nation’s character.
“When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are,” he said in the video, which opened with images of the January 6, 2021, insurrection and abortion rights activists protesting at the US Supreme Court.
“The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer,” Biden says in voiceover narration. “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.”
Biden’s official declaration ends any lingering doubts about his intentions, and begins a contest that could evolve into a rematch with his 2020 rival, former President Donald Trump. He enters the race with a significant legislative record but low approval ratings, a conundrum his advisers have so far been unable to solve. Already the oldest president in history, he also confronts persistent questions about his age.
The launch comes four years to the day Biden made his 2020 bid official. That race became a mission to restore the country’s character and prevent Trump from achieving a second term.
Biden’s fourth and final presidential campaign will rest on similar themes. Just as he did in 2020, Biden is making an appeal to the nation’s ideals, particularly with the specter of Trump’s return.
His announcement video warns against “MAGA extremists” who he says are “dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books, and telling people who they can love.”
“Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they’ve had to defend democracy. Stand up for our personal freedoms. Stand up for the right to vote and our civil rights,” he says. “And this is our moment.”
But Biden’s campaign will also ride on promoting the achievements made during the first two years of his presidency – and an argument he needs more time to “finish the job.”
“I know we can,” he says.
The Republican National Committee immediately rolled out an attack ad against Biden, unveiling what it called an “AI-generated look into the country’s possible future if Joe Biden is re-elected.” The dystopian video intermixes “news” of Biden’s reelection in 2024 with faux reports of high crime, international turmoil, rampant illegal immigration and financial calamity.
Little enthusiasm for another Biden run amid concerns about his age
No major Democratic challengers are expected to emerge, and Biden is likely to enjoy an easy path to his party’s nomination. Only two challengers are in the race: author Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Still, at 80, Biden is the nation’s oldest president. Polls have consistently reflected concern about his age even among Democrats.
Most Americans – and even a majority of Democrats – in recent surveys have shown little enthusiasm for another Biden run.
A series of upcoming challenges, from the ongoing war in Ukraine to a still-uncertain economy, could provide hurdles to Biden’s reelection. And now that power in Washington is divided, the GOP-controlled House has largely dashed hopes for major legislative accomplishments in the two years ahead of the 2024 vote.
The president’s tenure in office so far has been marked by key triumphs for his colossal policy agenda, including successfully pushing forward and compromising on a broad set of legacy-making, high pricetag priorities with Congress that addressed funding for the Covid-19 pandemic, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, bolstering domestic semiconductor chip production, and addressing climate change. And under Biden’s watch, the US has attempted to undo Trump’s legacy of diplomacy operating through a nationalist lens, returning to global agreements and reinforcing partnerships with allies who had been jilted by his predecessor.
But broader national challenges – sometimes outside of federal control – along with admitted administration fumbles have also acted as a magnet for GOP criticism and contributed to low national approval ratings throughout Biden’s time in office.
There was the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan. Struggles on border policy. Fluctuations in energy prices. Missteps with longstanding allies. Supply chain issues and shortages for everyday items and essentials like Covid-19 tests, baby formula and certain medications. Ongoing legal challenges to policies Biden’s implemented through executive authority, like student debt forgiveness. And investigations into his family, which have accelerated under the House GOP majority. And, of course, the pervasive inflation woes impacting global markets and Americans’ spending power.
In the coming months, Biden is also facing pressure to negotiate with Republican lawmakers to raise the national borrowing limit to avoid catastrophic default, a prospect that’s already caused anxiety amid an uncertain economic recovery.
In midterm elections last November, Biden’s party was able to defy historical trends by picking up a seat in the US Senate and avert a dramatic red wave in the House of Representatives. Long a self-identified centrist, Biden has mostly won over progressive Democrats through massive climate investments and steps to relieve student debt. But concerns – including from those among his party – remain over his ability to compel enough voters to stay on board for another term.
Standing up a campaign
Biden’s first public remarks since launching the reelection bid happened at a building trade union members conference in Washington just hours after his campaign video went public. Speaking to a familiar union crowd, he reaffirmed his allegiance to the key group of supporters.
“I’m here because there’s no better place to talk about the progress we’ve made together, and wouldn’t have made without you,” Biden said, underscoring that “there’s more work to do.”
While the president did not explicitly acknowledge his reelection bid, the audience did – chanting “Four more years!” while Biden was speaking.
The Washington beltway event may be indicative of what’s to come for the Biden reelection campaign strategy. The president’s campaign launch is not expected prompt a sudden change in his day-to-day schedule as commander in chief, according to advisers. Instead, it has come amid a busy week of engagements, a signal of Biden’s approach toward balancing his day job with the job of being a candidate.