First lady Jill Biden gave one of the clearest signals yet that President Joe Biden will run for another term amid speculation that he might be bowing out of a second presidential bid, saying Friday that his team is trying to figure out the time and place to announce it.
“How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?” the first lady told The Associated Press in Nairobi, Kenya, on Friday during a five-day trip to Africa.”
“He says he’s not done. He’s not finished what he’s started,” she added. “And that’s what’s important.”
Since taking office, President Biden has been dogged by questions and speculation about a second presidential bid, with critics citing his relatively advanced age. Biden, if he’s reelected in 2024, would be 86 years old upon leaving office in early 2029.
In her AP interview, the first lady said that she will have a say in whether he runs again “because I’m his wife.” She added that Biden will have to “listen to me because we’re a married couple” but stipulated that Biden “makes up his own mind.”
Biden has often said that he plans on running for another term, telling reporters during his first news conference in March 2021 that he would run. And in a news conference after the Nov. 8 midterms, he told reporters that his intention is to run but wouldn’t make a decision until early 2023.
In previous appearances, Biden said he won’t declare his candidacy because it could run afoul of federal election laws and campaign financing rules. A similar comment was issued by former President Donald Trump in 2021, although Trump became the first major Republican to announce a presidential bid a week after the Nov. 8 midterms last year.
Despite his public statements, there continues to be intense speculation about Biden’s future. A Politico article, published this week and citing “four people familiar with the president’s thinking,” said that there is no hard deadline for when Biden will announce his bid, which has allegedly caused some Democrat donors and strategists to come up with a contingency plan.
“An inertia has set in,” one alleged confidant to Biden told the outlet. “It’s not that he won’t run, and the assumption is that he will. But nothing is decided. And it won’t be decided until it is.”
Biden has said that his health would factor into whether he makes a second bid for the White House and said last year he would speak to his family about such a decision over the past Christmas holiday weekend. However, no announcement has been made yet.
The development comes as polling has often shown Democratic voters having a less-than-favorable opinion of Biden seeking office again. An AP-NORC poll, released earlier this month, found that only about 37 percent of Democrats support a second Biden term. According to the same poll, that’s down from the 52 percent in the weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 midterms.
When asked about the survey, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters this month that polling numbers aren’t as important as getting the desired results for Democratic voters.
“The way that we should look at this is what we saw from the midterms,” she said, adding that there were more victories than anticipated “because the president went out there and spoke directly to the American people.”
Earlier this week, progressive self-help author Marianne Williamson, who ran for president in 2020, confirmed Thursday that she will run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2024. No other prominent Democrats have officially made announcements yet.
“I wouldn’t be running for president if I didn’t believe I could contribute to harnessing the collective sensibility that I feel is our greatest hope at this time,” Williamson told the Medill News Service in an interview.
Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in November that he will not try to run for president in 2024 if Biden decides to. The Democrat governor said that it would trigger Democrat infighting that would harm his party’s chances.
“I’ve told everyone in the White House, from the chief of staff to the first lady,” Newsom told Politico.
As for prominent Republicans other than Trump, so far former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy have entered the race. Both Ramaswamy and Haley made their respective announcements this month.
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