First lady Jill Biden said on Friday that President Joe Biden intends to run for a second term.
Speculation has mounted over the past two years as to whether President Biden, who is 80 years old, would launch another campaign for the White House. His wife nevertheless confirmed during an interview with the Associated Press that there remains “pretty much” nothing left to decide beyond the time and place of the official announcement, providing one of the clearest indications that Biden has indeed decided to run.
“How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?” she told the outlet. “He says he’s not done. He’s not finished what he’s started. And that’s what’s important.”
The interview with Jill Biden occurred in Nairobi, Kenya, during her five-day mission to Africa. She has long been a central figure in determining the president’s future. “Of course he’ll listen to me, because we’re a married couple,” the first lady, who is 71 years old, said when asked if she holds the deciding vote on whether or not her husband runs. She nevertheless added later that “he makes up his own mind, believe me.”
Officials in the Biden administration have said that the commander-in-chief will announce his candidacy in two months, a move which would recall former President Barack Obama’s decision to announce his re-election campaign in April 2011 and begin attending events in May 2012. Biden could, on the other hand, decide to follow the pattern established by former President Lyndon Johnson, who decided in 1968 to forego a campaign for a second term amid the growing unpopularity of the Vietnam War.
More than two years into his presidency, however, Biden faces a disapproval rating above 50% and persistent questions about his mental acuity. Only 37% of Democrats say they want Biden to seek a second term, a decline from 52% in the weeks before last year’s midterm elections, according to a survey from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs.
An official announcement from Biden would likely deter other Democrats from seeking to clinch the nomination. California Governor Gavin Newsom, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are often floated as potential future nominees, although none have explicitly indicated that they would seek to run against the incumbent. Doubts persist about Vice President Kamala Harris and her capacity to appeal to the national electorate.
Several Republicans have recently declared their candidacy. Former President Donald Trump, who lost to Biden in the heated 2020 election, started his third bid for the White House shortly after the midterm elections, while former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and business leader Vivek Ramaswamy have entered the race in the past two weeks. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has not yet confirmed any presidential speculation, is widely believed to be preparing to join the Republican primary contest.
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Republican primary voters predominantly care about economic issues: some 38% identified “inflation or rising prices” as the most important consideration in the upcoming elections, while 27% identified illegal immigration, according to a new poll from WPA Intelligence. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Vice President Mike Pence have also made moves indicative of a forthcoming primary campaign.