Biden’s shifting reelection announcement
The anticipation by top Biden aides first called for a launch somewhere around Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Then, it pushed back to “not long after” the State of the Union Address.
Others close to President Biden signaled he would announce his 2024 reelection campaign by the beginning of April, to capture pent-up voter enthusiasm and launch big at the start of a new fundraising quarter.
All three dates have come and gone, and Mr. Biden still hasn’t officially said if he’s running.
When will he announce?
“When I announce it,” Mr. Biden replied exactly one month ago.
The president’s closest advisers and other outside consultants are planning to meet as many as three times this week to continue making decisions on the logistics, staffing and timing of the reelection bid, CBS News has learned from multiple people familiar with the ongoing planning.
He is no rush to launch, those people said. Plans to launch in January were pushed off because the president wasn’t ready to make the series of decisions necessary to launch, and because world events, including the war in Ukraine and brewing tensions with China, occupied much of his time.
The April target shifted in part because Mr. Biden saw no need to jump in and distract media attention from the two leading Republican contenders — former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who continue attacking each other with mixed success. And now, there’s the indictment of Trump, scheduled for Tuesday, a profoundly historic moment with unclear political and legal implications.
The anticipation for Mr. Biden’s decision is the very definition of a Washington parlor game — when will he do it? Will he do it? If not him, who? And it drives the president and those closest to him to become visibly annoyed when pressed by reporters.
Based on conversations with at least 10 people close to the process in recent weeks, the president is expected to formally launch his campaign by early summer. Some are holding out for late May, others say it will be by mid-June. July is also a possibility, but waiting until the fall would surprise some of those involved in the detailed planning, even as they concede it could happen if world events push off the date even longer.
The White House on Monday had no comment on the timing or planning of the president’s political future
But “why should he?” one senior Democrat said. “DeSantis isn’t even expected to jump in until June.”
The Florida governor is expected to wait until the end of the state legislative session schedule in late May before launching his bid, but he continues to make visits across the country to promote his new book and meet early primary state voters.
Two things are not in doubt at this time: Vice President Kamala Harris will be his running mate, and while activist Marianne Williamson has launched a campaign and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has said he is thinking about it, no major Democratic Party figure is expected to mount a challenge to the president.
For the president, it’s not just a simple commitment to launch the campaign. He needs to help determine when and where exactly to launch the campaign, where to base its headquarters — his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia are the leading contenders — and help the Democratic National Committee choose a host city for the 2024 convention, with Atlanta, Chicago and New York being the remaining options.
There’s also the matter of either launching a new outside super PAC or blessing several of them to quickly amass billions of dollars to buy digital, radio and television advertising to buoy the president, Harris and their agenda passed with Democratic lawmakers since 2021. One PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, is already beginning to air TV spots in battleground states, while other entities, including Future Forward and Building Back Together, are also likely to play big roles, with one or both likely to be tapped to serve as the president’s preferred super PAC, according to people familiar with the ongoing talks.
Mr. Biden also has yet to choose a campaign manager, someone likely to be tasked primarily with day-to-day hiring and logistics decisions and less of the broader strategic ones. Several potential candidates for the position have declined because they have more lucrative current jobs or because they know ultimately the most sensitive decisions will be made by advisers with closest ties to the Oval Office.
“At the end of the day, it’ll be Anita running the show,” one person familiar with the ongoing talks said — a reference to Anita Dunn, a White House senior adviser and longtime Biden confidant whose portfolio includes policy, messaging and political duties, and who was heavily involved in his 2020 campaign.
Beyond the president’s family, his closest advisers remain White House chief of staff Jeff Zients, White House deputy chief of staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon — who ran the 2020 campaign — and senior advisers Steve Ricchetti, Bruce Reed and Mike Donilon, who’ve served alongside Mr. Biden in various capacities for decades. Donilon especially husbands the soul and big-picture focus of the president’s political ambitions, and serves as a lead architect of high-profile speeches.
Some of those top aides are expected to either decamp to the reelection campaign or make plans to split their time between government and political duties, serving as part-time staffers for both operations. Former White House chief of staff Ron Klain and recently departed communications director Kate Bedingfield are also expected to be closely consulted, if not officially hired for campaign or super PAC roles.
Before leaving, Klain and Bedingfield helped implement a traditional presidential schedule for 2023 designed to keep Mr. Biden focused on implementing his agenda and above the fray of the GOP infighting and Trump’s legal troubles.
He has repeatedly declined to comment on his predecessor’s legal issues, in keeping with a Day One mandate to not at all interference with ongoing Justice Department or other legal investigations involving the president, his family or his political opponents.
On Monday the president is visiting Minnesota to herald a decision by the Cummins Engine Company to pump more than $1 billion into its factories in Indiana, North Carolina and New York to help manufacture more energy efficient vehicles. The investment is an outgrowth of the passage of the major inflation reduction and climate change legislation passed last fall.
Similar domestic travel, a mix of official policy events and fundraising for the DNC, are scheduled, especially for June, according to aides familiar with the planning. The White House will place an emphasis on events in states that a Biden campaign ultimately needs to keep in the mix to get to 270 electoral votes: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, most especially.
And over the rest of this year, the White House is preparing for a series of ambitious overseas trips to Northern Ireland, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Lithuania, India, and African and Latin American countries visits to buoy allies, attend annual diplomatic confabs and continue his push to counter the rise of China in the developing world.