Amid the polarization, there seems to be at least an expanding bipartisan consensus around something. President Joe Biden is “neither bold nor inspiring”.
Those are the words of the liberal Roots Action group – which backed Biden for president in 2020 but launches a “#Don’tRunJoe” ad campaign to begin a day after the November mid-term. The group is already collecting signatures.
The group is in line with a super majority of Democratic voters, 64% of whom want their party to nominate someone else in 2024, according to a New York Times/Sienna College Poll which also showed the president with a 33% approval rating. The number itself looks pretty bad, but for context, President Donald Trump’s endorsement dropped to 39 percent after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Biden keeps saying he plans to run for a second term, which for any other president would be the de facto assumption. But Biden, already the oldest president in history, will be over 80 in 2024, with about half of Americans examination his sanity and almost two-thirds who believe he should be tested for his sanity.
There is a face-saving way to bow out without appearing to give in to left-wing lobbies in his party or asserting any health concerns. During the 2020 campaign, Biden said: “I consider myself a bridge… There is a whole generation of leaders that you have seen standing behind me. They are the future of this country. He could simply declare in early 2023 – enough time for Democrats to mount a campaign – that he has accomplished his mission to restore the soul of a nation by defeating Trump, then announce that he has passed a infrastructure and gun control bill and everything else. he considers a success. It is therefore time to pass the torch to a new generation.
But if not Biden, then who? If he shows up, he might get a main challenge, but the champ would probably be another candidate. If he decides not to race, it could be a very open field.
Note in passing that the second finalist for 2016 and 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders, will not exclude functioning. If he did, he would be more than 80 years old than Biden. It is possible but unlikely. So for this piece we are focusing on cooler faces and only two ran up front as well.
Vice President Kamala Harris would be the immediate favorite, but also quite vulnerable. Much like Hillary Clinton in 2008 and 2016, she would be a favorite in the face of sympathy issues, with voters questioning her authenticity. But even worse, she was unable to articulate answers even to softball interview questions and became known for her cackling laughter.
In 2019, she emerged as a top contender by aggressively — and very consistently — targeting Biden in a primary debate. But as the spotlight grew, she dropped to single digits and dropped out of the race in front of the Iowa caucus. The fact of being vice-president does not seem to have made her grow in the work. She is nonetheless a heavy favorite for the nomination because she ticks so many intersectional boxes for a party obsessed with identity politics.
Mayor Pete was a strong enough campaigner to win the Iowa caucus in 2020 and did well in other states. Now he’s Secretary Pete. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg would have more gravitas to add to his stage presence, even if the transportation department isn’t the most august mission. He tops the city of South Bend, Indiana as a line on his resume.
Like Harris, he would also appeal to the identity politics wing of the Democratic Party, which may want to elect the first gay president. At the same time, he could win the support of party moderates, as he presented himself largely as a pragmatist during the 2020 campaign. His campaign’s PAC, Win the Era, is still operating without his involvement. But he might have an infrastructure in place if he shows up.
Like I have noted before, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, is talking about him. He jumped onto the national stage and was actually helped by his survival by winning big in a recall election last year. He could outshine other Democrats by touting that he has forced a progressive agenda into the state.
But, he would likely be ineligible in a general election, given California’s decline. Plus, a big question is: Would he challenge Harris, a fellow San Francisco politician? The answer is probably yes. He is ambitious and would grab an opening if he thought he had a decent chance of being nominated.
While we’re on governors, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker might be strong. He made the rounds on talk shows after the July 4 mass shooting in his state and hinted he would go national; Illinois is a big state. Pritzker is a great politician, both in size and in wealth. He’s a billionaire and could potentially bankroll a big chunk of his campaign while his opponents seek donations. Governors have always been better presidential candidates – Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush. However, there is also a record to consider. Pritzker has the same problem as Newsom. Far more people are leaving California and Illinois than moving there.
We can’t pass this one up without a bit of speculation. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whatever one thinks of her, has a following.
Although she often turns out to be a punchline, she seems to have taken the Trumpian view that there is no such thing as bad publicity. She managed to use this advertisement by seeking to outflank House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2019. She would be just old enough to run for president. Since there’s nothing stopping her from running for her safe seat in the House, if she loses the presidential primary, she could go.
A more likely candidate of the same ilk as AOC is Rep. Ro Khanna of California. Yes, it looks heavy for Californians. Khanna has aggressively propelled himself into the national spotlight by suing oil companies and holding investigative hearings. He served as co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016, so he could take on that role. That’s if Sanders runs.
We end with a long shot. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear was vaunted as a potential Democratic nominee for 2024. The selling point was that as Red State Governor, he would be a strong candidate in the general election and return to the days of Bill Clinton’s centrist coalition.
Beshear has worked with a Republican legislature and gained national attention for its handling of COVID-19 in the state. Democrats have traditionally had a better history of nominating long shots than Republicans — before 2016 anyway. However, Beshear says he won’t and has already filed for a second term as governor in 2023. To effectively run for president, he would need to spend most of 2023 doing so. That said, if Biden announced he would not run, many politicians would change their plans. Beshear might decide not to attempt to renew his day job.
Frederic Lucas is chief national affairs correspondent for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Lucas is also the author of “Abuse of Power: Inside the Three-Year Campaign to Impeach Donald Trump.”