WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is preparing to launch his re-election bid in the months after November’s midterm congressional elections, according to multiple aides and allies, setting up a potential 2024 re-match with former President Donald Trump.
Biden’s resolve to mount a second White House bid is hardening even with polls showing most Democrats would prefer a candidate other than the 79-year-old president. But those close to Biden describe him as buoyed by recent legislative, economic and foreign policy victories and committed to again deny Trump a return to the Oval Office.
“The president has said he’s planning on running again,” said Anita Dunn, a longtime aide who recently returned to the White House. “People should take him at his word.”
Three congressional Democrats have recently suggested Biden make way for a younger successor, while several more have pointedly declined to endorse his re-election. Biden’s approval rating is only about 40%, according to an analysis of polls by FiveThirtyEight.
But allies say Biden’s determination has grown amid revelations about Trump and his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, as well as the former president’s continued embrace by Republicans. This week, FBI agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as part of a probe into whether he removed classified documents from the White House, and Trump was deposed by New York’s attorney general over claims his businesses misled lenders.
Biden frequently notes polls that show him defeating Trump head-to-head in a 2024 matchup, and believes he won the Democratic nomination in 2020 because he represented the best chance to remove the former president from power.
But in a potential rematch, Biden would be the incumbent, defending his record both on the economy and overseas while fending off Trump and his still formidable and energized base of supporters.
Biden may also not face Trump at all, should the former president, who is 76, opt against a run or lose a primary challenge from a rising and younger Republican.
During a meeting with Democratic Party activists earlier this month, Biden said he worried that the risk to democracy “hasn’t diminished; if anything it’s grown.” Biden added he could not think of anything more important than making sure the party was in a position to win both the midterms “as well as 2024.”
“He thought he was the only person who could beat Donald Trump when Trump ran for re-election, and he was right,” said Cedric Richmond, a former congressman and White House aide who has moved to the Democratic National Committee to help coordinate political efforts.