By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some Democrats in the U.S. Congress have begun to voice what many have privately pondered: whether President Joe Biden, the oldest person to occupy the Oval Office, should choose retirement over for re-election in 2024.
With an approval rating of 38%, and having hovered below 50% since May, the 79-year-old Biden has been hurt by high inflation and voter concerns that he won’t be able to meet the demands of the presidency in 2025. Last November, the White House said that Biden plans to run again in 2024.
A pair of Democratic US Representatives from Minnesota have made the message clear.
“The country would be well served by a new generation of compelling, well-prepared and dynamic Democrats to step up,” Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips said in an interview last week with WCCO radio in Minneapolis.
Phillips praised Biden’s decency and service, but added that it’s time for a generational change.
Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, who unlike Phillips faces a tough re-election on Nov. 8, said Tuesday that she is “in tune and aligned” with Phillips, according to the Minnesota Post.
He may have been trying to position himself better with independent voters, according to some analysts.
But recent public opinion polls have found similar views among Democratic voters. A July New York Times/Siena College poll found that 64% of Democrats would like a new candidate in 2024, and a CNN poll last week found an even higher 75% of Democrats hold that view.
Party activists typically rally around their president, especially if he is seeking a second term. And they can if former President Donald Trump, 76, decides to run again in 2024, a possibility he has been publicly flirting with.
“The hunger for a new generation of leadership is showing. But the hunger to beat Trump will always matter more. Biden remains the only name on the list of Republicans or Democrats who have done it,” said Matt McAlvanah, former President of Obama. administration and leadership officer of the Senate.
A July Reuters/Ipsos poll found that a third of Republican voters believe Trump should not run again. Polls show Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 43, gaining appeal with Republican voters.
White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
NO ‘READY ALTERNATIVE’
An aide to a veteran House Democrat said Wednesday that Biden’s COVID-19 diagnosis last month sparked a conversation among a half-dozen Democratic aides of different political stripes about Biden’s future.
It was unclear if they reflected the sentiments of their bosses, but the aide noted there was a general consensus that it would be “foolish” to get rid of Biden, given his strong victory over Trump in 2020.
“It’s not like we have an alternative ready,” the aide added.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democratic lawmakers have voiced support for Biden’s 2024 candidacy.
Others keep their options open.
During a debate Tuesday night between three Democrats vying for a House seat in New York, Rep. Carolyn Maloney said she didn’t think Biden would run for re-election when asked if she would support his candidacy. A day later she declared her support.
His main opponent, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, said those questions are best left until after the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when Republicans are favorites to regain a majority in at least one house of Congress.
The talk comes as Biden points to a record of legislative achievement. He signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill in November, less than a year into his presidency, a stark contrast to Trump, who talked about infrastructure for four years but never won the legislation.
Last month, Biden signed the first major federal gun safety bill in three decades.
Now, Democrats in Congress aim to pass an unprecedented investment in climate change mitigation and a program to lower prescription drug costs for the elderly, while persuading businesses and the wealthy to comply. with your tax obligations.
Ben LaBolt, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for former President Barack Obama, said Democratic lawmakers should focus on those victories.
“It’s a rare time for that kind of talk to happen when the administration is on the brink of some record-setting gains on many of the major issues facing the American people,” LaBolt said.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Scott Malone and Josie Kao)