Joe Biden still hasn’t made up his mind about whether or not to run for president in 2024.
“Look, my intention as I said to begin with is that I would run again,” the President said last month in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Biden does decide to run for another term in two years time. The challenge before him will be simple but profound: Prove to the American people that he can campaign all over the country for the entirety of the campaign.
That’s according to the latest column from The Washington Post’s Megan McArdle, who writes:
“You need only watch video from 10 years ago to see that the president now appears slower than he used to be. That doesn’t mean he’s unfit to be president; he will not be asked to resolve a foreign policy crisis by solving crossword puzzles at high speed. But whether it’s a policy problem, it is a political problem.”
McArdle’s argument – if I extrapolate it somewhat – goes like this:
1. In the early primary and caucus states where a premium was put on hand-to-hand campaigning, Biden was crushed.
2. He was saved by the endorsement of South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and the strong support of Black voters in the Palmetto State.
3. After that win in South Carolina, the primary campaign effectively ended because the country went into lockdown over Covid-19.
4. The general election campaign, similarly, wasn’t much of a campaign. Biden held very few in-person events and the ones he did hold were with small numbers of people.
5. By the time the 2024 campaign rolls around, the pandemic will be in the rearview mirror (Biden says it already is) and politics will return to normal again. Which means Biden will have to do something he hasn’t done in years – actively campaign.
“Whether Republicans nominate Trump or someone else, his opponent is going to be out there on the stump, whipping up voter enthusiasm and proving they have the stamina for the job. If Biden doesn’t follow suit, he will be conceding them an edge — especially since they will not be shy about using that fact to raise questions about his fitness.”
We know from oodles of polling that there are real and persistent questions among the electorate – including a decent-sized chunk of Democrats – about whether Biden should run again, with his age being a prime driver of those doubts.
Whether you agree with McArdle or not, she raises a provocative and important point: Given Biden’s age and snafus like the one last week involving the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, people are going to be keeping a close eye on how he carries himself as a candidate in 2024.
The Point: Biden, assuming he runs in 2024, will be 81 years old on the campaign trail – the oldest person to ever seek a second term as president. (He was also the oldest person ever elected to a first term.) His ability to handle the rigors of a campaign will be a major hurdle he needs to clear in the eyes of many voters.
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