Democrats Whisper: Could Joe Biden Face a Primary Challenge?
Author: Greg Valliere
January 23, 2023
IT’S NO SECRET that a surprisingly large percentage of Democrats are lukewarm to another term for Biden, who faces several congressional investigations and would leave office at age 86 if he serves a full second term.
DESPITE A DECENT ELECTION RESULT last fall and a solid record of legislative accomplishments, Biden is increasingly viewed as tone deaf about the seriousness of his handling of documents that have been found in his home and offices.
“HE NEEDS TO APOLOGIZE” for sloppiness and inattention to details, a Democratic Hill staffer told us this weekend. The argument that Donald Trump also took top secret documents is not sufficient to end the pressure on Biden, who repeatedly has stated that he takes classified documents very seriously.
BIDEN ALSO FACES SOME GRUMBLING from a minority of Democrats in Congress who are opposed to his adamant refusal to negotiate on the debt ceiling. It’s considered inevitable on Capitol Hill that he will have to compromise with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
WITH BIDEN’S JOB APPROVAL RATING closer to 40% than 50% in most polls, and inflation not totally tamed, some Democrats are nervous that they have no fallback candidate. Biden is not expected to announce his re-election plans until a few weeks after his Feb. 7 State of the Union address.
WHEN MEMBERS OF BOTH PARTIES come back to Washington after meeting with constituents, they overwhelmingly report that voters want a fresh face in 2024. The Republicans have gotten the message; Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo and of course Ron DeSantis are likely to announce their candidacies by spring. Other Republicans may jump in.
SEVERAL DEMOCRATS HAVE SENT SIGNALS that they would be able to run — assembling a campaign staff and launching fundraising operations — within weeks or days if Biden drops out.
WHO’S READY TO RUN? Obviously Vice President Harris would be the first to announce if Biden drops out, followed by Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and as many as a half dozen governors, including Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Gavin Newsom of California. Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia maverick, indicated yesterday on Meet the Press that he might run.
BUT WOULD BIDEN DROP OUT? Probably not, but with fresh revelations every day in the document saga, the unease grows among Democrats in this town, who fear the aggressive special prosecutor will dig into a wide range of Biden’s conduct.
BIDEN MIGHT FACE A PRIMARY CHALLENGER who could soften him up for the general election, but there’s a bigger question: who among the uneasy Democrats would dare to tell Joe Biden that one term is enough?
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