by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Joe Biden said the quiet part out loud during a closed-door fundraiser.
Had former President Donald Trump not launched a comeback bid for the White House, Biden may have stepped aside in favor of the next generation of Democratic leadership.
While Biden and his aides have tried to clarify his Tuesday admission, his comment is unlikely to motivate Democrats and independent voters to cast a ballot for him in 2024 when they are already unenthusiastic about four more years of Biden.
Biden has a “habit of saying the obvious things out loud,” according to Democratic strategist Stefan Hankin, a reference to Biden’s tendency to be more candid during private fundraisers than in public.
“I don’t think this is a question of where his heart is but what or who he sees as having the best chance to beat Trump,” Hankin told the Washington Examiner. “I tend to agree that Biden is one of the better candidates to run against Trump.”
“If Trump had decided not to run, I feel that Biden would have announced it is time to pass the torch to the next generation,” he said.
Many Democrats like Hankin are downplaying Biden’s comment. They contend Biden has made similar statements about Trump since he announced his 2020 campaign. They also assert he reiterated those remarks when he launched his 2024 bid this year with an updated message that included Jan. 6 and Trump’s appointment of Supreme Court justices who overturned the abortion precedent Roe v. Wade.
“Joe Biden ran in 2020 to stop Donald Trump. He did,” Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said. “Joe Biden is running again in 2024 to stop Donald Trump again. It’s that simple.”
Karen Finney, another Democratic strategist, cited Biden’s first campaign ad in 2019 about “the danger Trump was and still is to America’s democracy” as proof of the point.