President Joe Biden said he may have decided to serve just one term if Donald Trump were not seeking to return to the White House, arguing the former president poses a grave threat to American democracy.
Biden, 81, has faced persistent voter doubts about his decision to seek four more years in office due to his age. The president has sought to parry those concerns in part by saying he is motivated to defeat Trump again and prevent him from holding power.
“If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running,” Biden, 81, told donors Tuesday at a campaign fundraiser in Massachusetts. “But we cannot let him win for the sake of our country.”
The president has recently stepped up his warnings that Trump would dismantle the U.S.’s democratic institutions, roll back laws that allow more people to access health care and push more restrictions on abortion rights.
Nonetheless, his comment raised eyebrows because it played into worries about his age and lack of voter appetite for a Biden-Trump rematch. Polls have shown most Democrats, do not want Biden to be their party’s nominee due to concerns about his ability to handle the job.
Biden sought to downplay his remark later Tuesday.
“I expect so,” Biden said when asked by a reporter at the White House if he would be running if Trump was not. “But look, he is running and I have to run.”
The president also said he would not drop out if Trump does.
Biden has repeatedly said Trump’s reaction to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, encouraged him to seek the presidency in 2020, citing his predecessor’s remarks after a counter-protester was killed that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the demonstrations.
The president’s advisers have said he is the best candidate to defeat Trump a second time, backing up his decision to seek reelection.
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