WASHINGTON — The White House’s top advisers are poised to make final decisions on whether to launch President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, even as the potential nominee appears to show little urgency in formally declaring his plans for 2024. multiple sources familiar with the talks told NBC News. .
Biden’s deliberate approach to going public with what he has repeatedly repeated in private is driven by a number of factors: No major Democratic challenger is emerging; his predecessor, now indicted, monopolizes political attention; and a major clash with congressional Republicans over spending looms.
And then there are reasons unique to Biden for delaying an announcement beyond the timelines informally announced by his team.
“The decision part is over, but he doesn’t like the pressure of having to announce what he has already decided,” said a source familiar with the matter. “It’s frustrating but it’s also very Joe Biden.”
Another longtime adviser, who has already navigated Biden’s candidacy decisions, said the delay also serves to “preserve the option not to” run.
Many of those in Biden’s inner circle were there eight years ago, when he appeared about to announce his candidacy on a Tuesday evening, to declare at the Rose Garden on Wednesday afternoon that he would not would not present in 2016.
Even though Biden has publicly stated that he “intends to run” in 2024, he almost always frames it with a caveat that he is a “respect for fate,” a nod to the possibility real that circumstances, whether political or personal, may change and steer him in a different direction.
Aides, however, universally say they have little doubt that Biden will seek a second term and preparations are underway accordingly. The president recently teased a re-election bid at public events, coinciding with an administration-wide campaign-style tour touting his legislative accomplishments. And in doing so, he’s leaning on one of his main advantages at this point – being president, not a candidate.
Without major primary opposition, Biden has the luxury of starting his final campaign on his own terms. Biden has never been a darling of the left, but the progressive wing of the Democratic Party seems to have allied itself behind him.
“Why would you ever announce when you’ve already cleared the land without doing any work to take anyone down?” said a source.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who co-chaired Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign, said of Biden, “He’s had two years of success with important legislation to bring manufacturing back. He is sympathetic and he makes an effort with the people of the House and the Senate on a personal basis.
“And he is the outgoing president. People know that challenging an incumbent president is usually not a good strategy for the party.
Noting that liberal senators like Sanders and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are staying out of the race out of respect for Biden, Rep. Jim Clyburn, DS.C., a Biden ally, said, “So far, he hasn’t there is no serious challenger. So there’s no reason for him to come out and expose himself to those [campaign] rules and regulations that limit what you can do while you are an advertised candidate.
“The longer he can go without being an announced candidate, the better off he is,” Clyburn said.
A White House spokesperson reiterated Biden’s intention to seek re-election.
“President Biden has made it clear that he intends to run, and his goal is to finish the job he is doing for American families: to continue to bring manufacturing back from overseas, to further reduce the deficit in making sure the wealthy special interests pay their fair share, and standing up for basic rights like the freedom to choose,” Andrew Bates said in a statement to NBC News. “There has never been a time limit for an announcement .”
Biden’s inclination to dither on an official announcement, a source familiar with his thinking says, has been fueled in part by Republican infighting, particularly with former President Donald Trump directing some of his toughest attacks on a as-yet-unannounced main foe, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“If he announces he’s running for office, that starts to change the conversation. Why would you want to do that? the source said.
Biden’s campaign headquarters appear to be based in Wilmington, Delaware, though staff may also work in the Washington area, where some of the campaign machinery is set up in the Democratic National Committee. . Keisha Lance Bottoms and Cedric Richmond, both former top White House officials and top surrogates in Biden’s 2020 campaign, are being considered as two potential national co-chairs.
Biden has yet to sign a campaign leadership team that would work with his advisers at the White House, although interviews have taken place and potential candidates have been asked to “hang in there” for now, he said. said another source familiar with the planning.
Jennifer Ridder, a veteran of Biden’s 2020 campaign, has emerged as a top contender for a senior campaign role, with a source pointing out that the final slate is not yet locked in. A source familiar with the planning identified her and eight other Democratic strategists as part of the lineup for leadership positions, several of whom are veterans of the 2022 competition and others who have worked on national campaigns.
Ridder has ties to Biden’s inner circle. She’s the executive vice president of Democratic consulting firm Precision Strategies, co-founded by Jen O’Malley Dillon, who managed Biden’s successful 2020 campaign and is now deputy White House chief of staff.
When asked if she could be considered for the position of campaign manager, Ridder said in an interview, “It’s very flattering.”
“I think there’s consideration, but they definitely speak to a number of people,” she said.
Even though Biden has been content with delaying the launch of a campaign, certain factors and deadlines influence the timing.
A key hurdle to clear before Biden’s candidacy becomes official is where the DNC plans to hold its 2024 convention. That announcement, which is ultimately Biden’s decision, could come as early as this week, with Atlanta and Chicago being considered the first.
Legislative deadlines could also create pressure on him to formalize things no later than May, after which the fight against the debt limit and budget negotiations with Republicans in Congress will likely intensify. The Treasury Department has warned of debt default as early as June if Congress does not act, but congressional leaders have yet to engage in meaningful discussions.
Announcing a 2024 candidacy during a standoff with congressional Republicans is something Biden aides hope to avoid. “You can’t announce before a budget cliff. There is no space to announce before the fiscal cliff and not let the Republicans push you over the cliff,” said a person familiar with the 2024 plans.
Biden’s waiting period also poses other challenges.
One concern White House advisers have mentioned privately, a person familiar with the matter said, is that Biden cannot raise campaign funds until he declares his candidacy. The trade-off is that Biden can look and act presidential by making full use of Air Force One and the presidential bully pulpit to spread his message, but he can’t fundraise.
Still, if Trump ends up being the GOP nominee, it will certainly speed up Democratic fundraising, some strategists have said. In a rematch with Trump, they said, Biden would likely have all the money he needs to win.
Deciding when to announce one’s candidacy “is always about the money,” said one Democratic campaign strategist. “Biden doesn’t need a platform; he doesn’t need to rent a plane to travel across the country and talk to people. He doesn’t need a campaign right now.
“Eventually he’s going to need the money,” the strategist said.
Michael Toner, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, noted that running a campaign creates expenses that Biden can avoid by delaying his announcement. “The actual burn rate comes from staff hiring and event costs,” Toner said. “These presidents are used to very beautiful events that are expensive to organize. They simply are. It’s a chicken and egg problem: later you start your campaign, you don’t need that much money.
Outside the White House, pro-Biden political action committees and Democratic operatives expect him to run. They said they had heard nothing from Biden-world to suggest otherwise.
“Everyone told me we were preparing,” said a Democratic strategist. “All the [outside] the groups are talking and ready to move forward.