White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Monday that President Biden intends to run for re-election despite sagging support in the polls and voter unease about his health — setting up a potential rematch with former President Donald Trump.
Biden, who turned 79 over the weekend, is already the oldest man to serve as president and would be 82 if he is sworn in for a second term. Trump, 75, would be 78 if he becomes the first president since Grover Cleveland to win a second non-consecutive term.
“There were reports that President Biden was telling allies that he is going to run for re-election in 2024. Can you confirm, is he going to run in 2024? Is he telling staff that?” a reporter asked Psaki on Air Force One as Biden traveled to a pre-Thanksgiving military event at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
“Yes, that’s his intention,” Psaki responded.
After arriving at the base, Biden gave brief remarks before donning an apron with the presidential seal and scooping stuffing onto the plates of troops at a “friendsgiving” celebration.
“I’m so damn proud to be associated with you,” Biden said. “And it’s hard for me to even say it, but the thing that’s amazing to me is how proud I am to be your commander in chief. You are the most incredible group of women and men — warriors — that we’ve ever seen.”
As he often does at events involving the military, Biden spoke about his family’s experience when his late son Beau deployed to Iraq as a member of the Delaware Army National Guard.
“Folks, I want to thank not only your warriors, I want to thank your families because they stand and wait,” he said. “And I know how hard it is to have someone who’s not at the table on a holiday, that are in harm’s way to find themselves out of the country.”
Biden and first lady Jill Biden are expected to depart the White House late Tuesday for a family trip to Nantucket to celebrate the holiday.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that Biden and close aides are spreading the word that he plans to seek a second term in 2024, even as many political pundits express doubts about his viability due to plunging poll numbers and widespread belief that his health is declining.
“The only thing I’ve heard him say is he’s planning on running again. And I’m glad he is,” former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) told the outlet.
Recent polls indicate that most voters disapprove of Biden’s performance and harbor doubts about his physical condition amid crises including the highest inflation in 31 years, the highest rate of illegal immigration since the 1980s, the disorderly US exit from Afghanistan and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found 53 percent of registered voters disapprove of Biden’s performance and just 38 percent approve. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted Nov. 7-10 found 57 percent disapproval and 38 approval of Biden.
A Politico/Morning Consult survey published Nov. 17, meanwhile, found that 50 percent of registered voters disagreed with the statement “Joe Biden is in good health,” while only 40 percent agreed and 10 percent did not know or had no opinion.
The poll also found that 48 percent of voters disagreed with the statement “Joe Biden is mentally fit,” while 46 percent agreed and 6 percent did not know or had no opinion.
The concern over Biden’s health and age is nothing new.
Last month, a Harvard-Harris poll found that 53 percent of voters have doubts about the president’s fitness while 47 percent do not. In addition, 58 percent of respondents said Biden was too old to be president, while 42 percent felt he was fit enough for the job.
On Friday, Biden underwent a physical at Walter Reed Medical Center outside Washington and received a mostly clean bill of health, though his physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor said spinal arthritis contributed to “the President’s gait appear[ing] to be perceptibly stiffer and less fluid” and that his cough while speaking seems to be “increasing [in] frequency and severity,” though it is likely caused only by stomach acid reflux.