Even as the President Joe Biden reportedly insists he plans to run for re-election in 2024, rumors are swirling that he might bow out.
On Sunday, Politico quoted an unnamed “person familiar with Biden’s conversation about his 2024 plans” as saying that Biden “has told people he is running and that ‘we will be prepared.'”
But Biden is nearly 79 years old, and if he served a second term as president, he would be 86 at the end of it. And that’s a fact plenty of Democratic insiders seem to be well aware of.
“There has been persistent chatter in Democratic circles that [Biden] could decide not to [run],” Politico reported. “And talk of successorship has spilled into open view in recent days, with even a close Biden ally, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, speculating about Harris’ positioning in a potential 2024 primary.”
Specifically, Dodd said that if Biden didn’t run in 2024, Vice President Kamala Harris would be a front-runner to replace him.
“I’m hoping the president runs for re-election,” Dodd told The New York Times, “but for whatever reason that might not be the case, it’s hard to believe there would be a short list without Kamala’s name on it. She’s the vice president of the United States.”
Other Democrats don’t seem to be as confident in Harris’ abilities.
“But over time, many Democrats have grown more anxious about Harris’s performance and prospects, citing factors both within and beyond her control. Some say Biden has done his vice president few favors,” The Washington Post reported.
Politico used different words to push a similar message.
“Typically, the person at the other side of that bridge would be the vice president. But less than a year into her time in the executive branch, more than a dozen Democratic officials — some affiliated with potential candidates — say that Harris is currently not scaring any prospective opponents,” the outlet reported.
A veteran New Hampshire political operative put it rather bluntly.
“She’s definitely not going to clear the f—ing field,” the operative told Politico.
Another politician seen as a potential Biden successor is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“I expect [Biden] to run again,” California investor Steve Westly, who fundraised for Biden in 2020, told The Post. “If he doesn’t, I think Harris is clearly the favorite. But I think we’ve got a deep bench. I think people like Secretary Buttigieg. … He now has additional seasoning in a position as secretary of transportation, with a national profile.”
No matter what happens, one thing is clear: As questions about Biden’s plans continue to mount, top Democrats are playing the positioning game.
“Folks are definitely playing chess right now. They’re playing the long game and seeing how things develop and shift,” political operative Nina Smith, who has worked for both Buttigieg and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, told Politico.