Even before Joe Biden became the country’s 46th president on Wednesday, his orbit was sending out signals that he wouldn’t be a one-term wonder.
“He is planning to run again,” Delaware Sen. Chris Coons told Politico over the weekend. “He knows that we are at the middle of an absolute turning point, a pivot point in American history. And he’s up for the challenge.”
Which is interesting!
After all, Coons is one of Biden’s closest allies and advisers. Which means it’s pretty unlikely that he just sort of spouted off – days before Biden became president – about the 46th president’s plans to run again in 2024.
This was, without question, a concerted effort – and strategy – to get the word out that Biden has no plans to limit himself to a single term. And it’s a very smart strategy.
Why? Because the second that Biden – or one of his top surrogates – suggests that Biden, who, at 78, is by far the oldest person ever sworn in for a first presidential term, may not run again, he immediately becomes a lame duck. The clock starts ticking on the end of his term and Republicans begin the process of stalling as much as possible – knowing that Biden is going to be gone in less than four years.
(There’s a reason that the last president to make a one-term limit pledge was Rutherford B. Hayes way back in the 1870s.)
It’s also suggests there’s been a significant change from where Biden reportedly was on seeking second term – at age 82 – as recently as December 2019. As Politico’s Ryan Lizza reported at the time:
“Former Vice President Joe Biden’s top advisers and prominent Democrats outside the Biden campaign have recently revived a long-running debate whether Biden should publicly pledge to serve only one term, with Biden himself signaling to aides that he would serve only a single term.
“While the option of making a public pledge remains available, Biden has for now settled on an alternative strategy: quietly indicating that he will almost certainly not run for a second term while declining to make a promise that he and his advisers fear could turn him into a lame duck and sap him of his political capital.”
And Biden spoke openly about his candidacy (and presidency) as a sort of generational bridge for the party and the country.
“Look, I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” Biden said in March 2020. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.”
But by August, with Donald Trump ramping up attacks on the former vice president’s age and ability to do the job of president, Biden was less vague about his future plans, Asked whether he could see himself running again in four years, he responded: “Absolutely.”
The truth is that no one – Biden included – knows what he and the country will look like in four years’ time. Did anyone think that 18 months ago that we would be in the grips of a global pandemic that has already killed more than 400,000 Americans? Exactly.
But words have impact. And Coons’ pledge that Biden not only could run again but it is “planning” to do so is very clearly meant to send a signal to every Democratic and Republican in Washington that this guy isn’t going anywhere – so it’s time to get to work with him on the problems facing the country.