President Joe Biden on Tuesday launched his reelection bid, as he seeks to win over Americans who are tired of stubbornly high inflation or worried about his ability to serve a second term in the White House.
“When I ran for President four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are. The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer,” Biden says in a video announcing his campaign. “I know what I want the answer to be and I think you do too. This is not a time to be complacent. That’s why I’m running for re-election.”
If Biden won a second term, he would extend his streak as the oldest person to sit in the Oval Office: He would be 82 on Inauguration Day 2025. Despite concerns about his age among Democrats, no serious opposition to Biden emerged, even as the Republican field grows larger.
Polling shows Democrats prefer a candidate other than Biden, but there isn’t a consensus on who that alternative would be. An NBC News poll released Sunday found 70% of Americans, including 51% of Democrats, believe Biden should not seek a second term. Half of voters who don’t want Biden to run say his age is a “major” factor.
Still, Biden’s first-term accomplishments, combined with Democrats’ stronger than expected showing in the midterms and the early declaration by former President Donald Trump, have bolstered Biden’s image as a safe bet. Trump seeks his third GOP presidential nomination while facing criminal charges in New York, under several other criminal probes and just over two years removed from House impeachment on charges that he incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Biden had an eventful first half of his term. The Covid-19 pandemic was still in full swing when he assumed office, as much of the country worked from home and coronavirus vaccine distribution had just started. He heralded legislative efforts to pour trillions into the U.S. economy to stave off a post-pandemic recession — though his efforts to reimagine the U.S. social safety net hit a wall in Congress.
Biden was able to accomplish many of his ambitious campaign goals with the help of a Democratic-controlled Congress for the first half of his term. He was able to push through the sprawling pandemic relief plan, a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law and the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act — all within the first 20 months of his term.
The plans included much of his “Build Back Better” domestic agenda. Still, the slim majorities in Congress, particularly in the Senate, pared back many of his most ambitious plans and forced him to use executive orders to implement changes on issues like student loan forgiveness and police reform.
On the international stage, Biden oversaw the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and led international allies to boost Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.
His recent State of the Union address served as a preview for his second-term pitch. He called again for unity and promised to “finish the job” he started.
In the video published Tuesday, Biden says “MAGA extremists are lining up” to take away “bedrock freedoms.”
“Cutting Social Security that you’ve paid for your entire life while cutting taxes for the very wealthy,” Biden says in the video. “Dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books, and telling people who they can love. All while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.”
The economy, often a strong predictor for how incumbent presidents fare, offers mixed indicators for Biden. Unemployment earlier this year was at a nearly 54-year low, but elevated inflation is still burdening consumers with high costs even as it starts to ease.
Biden rose to the front of the crowded Democratic primary field in 2020 as weary left-leaning voters fretted over choosing a candidate strong enough to defeat then-incumbent President Donald Trump. Despite his age, Biden’s experience made him a formidable candidate and a seemingly stable bet for Democrats. As global tensions rise amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and China’s increasingly aggressive stances, Biden again can fall back on his years as a statesman for assurance.
The Republican field is already starting to take shape as Trump and former UN Secretary Nikki Haley have launched their campaigns. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina are taking initial steps to run.
In the NBC News poll, Trump was the favorite among Republican candidates with 46% of support, compared to 31% for DeSantis and 6% for former Vice President Mike Pence. Haley and Scott tied at 3%.
Trump at 76 also faces questions about his age. The NBC News poll, which was conducted from April 14 to April 18 after the former president’s arrest and arraignment in New York City, found 60% of Americans say Trump also should not run. Voters who do not think Trump should run were split on whether the recent charges affect their view.
Early polling shows a close hypothetical general-election race. A Wall Street Journal poll from mid-April found Biden leading Trump in a head-to-head matchup by 3 percentage points, 48% to 45%. The same survey found DeSantis leading Biden by the same margin, 48% to 45%.
Biden had a 41% job approval rating in the April NBC News poll. The figure was below his 57% high when he took office, but above his low of 39% in May 2022.