Joe Biden has a lot to think about, as usual. Biden, who has spent the past half century in public life, is famously ponderous and contemplative, particularly when it comes to his career and family. As early as 2011, he talked openly about a potential bid for the presidency in 2016, only to back off as the date neared. Heartsick over the tragic death of his late son Beau, Biden agonized about the possibility of launching a campaign until almost a year before the general election, ending, as CNN put it at the time, “months of intense speculation about his political future.” Even during the last presidential cycle, Biden dragged out his deliberation process seemingly as long as possible before making his formal announcement in April 2019. “Joe Biden Announces 2020 Run For President, After Months of Hesitation,” ran The Times headline in characteristically arch style.
Normally, a sitting president chooses to announce their decision to run for re-election sometime after the midterms. And this is, by all appearances, the plan for Biden, too. White House aides are carrying on preparations for his big announcement, which would typically come during sometime between November and January. Staffers have been told to arrange for Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign, while his inner circle works out details like when and where they will officially announce it. “There is no daylight between whether he’s running [or not],” a senior White House official told me recently. “We are operating that way.”
And yet this very same official acknowledged to me that this could all be “busy work.” Indeed, Biden’s political future appears more tenuous than ever before. His approval ratings remain mired at 39 percent, and the media has begun to openly question his bonafides in the face of either a rematch with Donald Trump or a battle with a younger candidate, like Ron DeSantis. The Times, which has before questioned the role of Biden’s age, recently published a widely reported piece suggesting that Democratic officials might want Biden to step aside before 2024.