Buoyed by Democrats’ performance in the midterm elections, President Joe Biden is taking a victory lap on his expected path toward a second White House bid — just as some allies wish he would step aside.
In a post-election press conference, Biden beat back skepticism over his agenda, saying he would change “nothing” and dismissing calls to step aside.
“Watch me,” Biden responded when asked about exit polling that showed two-thirds of voters do not want him to run again.
“I’m confident these policies are working and that we’re on the right path, and we need to stick with them,” he said.
A day later, Biden suggested his agenda had room to grow. “We’re just getting started,” the president said at a political event in Washington, D.C., where Vice President Kamala Harris joined him.
After warning that democracy was at stake, Biden appeared to relish the prospect of facing off against a divided Republican field. He said in July that he “would not be disappointed” to face a rematch against former President Donald Trump, an approaching possibility as the former president teases a Nov. 15 announcement.
But Biden faces skepticism over the possibility, with Democrats clamoring for change.
At soon to be 80 years old, even supporters who backed the president in 2020 say it is time to cede to a new generation of leadership.
One former swing state party chair and longtime supporter said Biden should move now to give the party an opportunity to elevate a strong candidate.
“I just don’t feel like holding my breath for another two years,” the person said. “I love him but it’s time.”
But the former official thought this scenario was unlikely, reinforced by Democrats’ post-election standing. Expecting a drubbing, the party instead held off the worst of a red wave.
“The fact that the Democratic Party outperformed anything anyone expected and did better than any off-year presidency since John Kennedy is one that gives everybody, like, ‘Hoo’ — sigh of relief,” Biden said.
One former senior Democratic aide shared Biden’s position, calling the results “significant” and arguing the president was well-placed to seek another term.
While the former battleground official agreed that the win had created an opportunity to grow Democrats’ agenda, someone should lead the charge.
“It’s a false impression,” the person said. Biden “could tee it up for Democrats for a generation if he decides to pass.”
Democrats began fielding candidates long in advance of the 2020 presidential race, with primary debates beginning in the summer of 2019. On Wednesday, one day after the party secured better-than-expected outcomes, a progressive group launched a campaign titled “Don’t Run Joe.”
The prospect appears increasingly wishful, despite vocal reservations from a tide of onetime supporters. On Nov. 2, less than one week before the midterm elections, Washington Post columnist George Will said that to nominate Biden and Harris again would “insult and imperil the nation.”
Democratic officials insist that Biden had no intention not to run again, a sentiment the president appeared to bolster publicly on Wednesday when he said the midterm elections wouldn’t factor at all.
With first lady Jill Biden looking on, the president said he would weigh the decision as long as necessary but that it would ultimately be “a family decision.”
“My guess is it would be early next year we make that judgment,” he said. “I don’t feel any hurry one way or another … no matter what my predecessor does.”