On June 7, Dan Backer, attorney for the Committee to Defeat the President PAC, sent the FEC a supplemental letter asking them to enforce federal law and make President Joe Biden file the required forms to declare himself a candidate in 2024. The letter cited public statements Biden and others made that provided further support to the complaint the group filed in October of 2021. Last week, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre boosted Backer’s case.
To be clear, as the President has said repeatedly, he plans to run in 2024.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) June 13, 2022
Backer believes that Jean-Pierre’s statement bolstered the PAC’s complaint, and he submitted an additional supplemental letter that includes it. She is not an unnamed source and has direct contact with Biden regularly. “The press secretary’s public statement underlines our legal case. Biden has clearly formed the requisite mental intent to run for president in 2024. It is time for him to be honest and file the required FEC forms so groups like the Committee to Defeat the President can begin opposing him directly,” Backer said.
Backer asserts that the FEC complaint filed by the PAC was well-substantiated before Jean-Pierre’s tweet. Her clear statement makes the violation blatant. According to Backer, Biden’s campaign committee is still intact and spending money. That infrastructure only exists to run for office. “Short of his death in office, Biden will run in 2024,” Backer predicted confidently.
He is also shocked at the level of open discussion in the media about Biden running for a second term. “The message discipline is gone,” Backer noted. The ongoing chatter in the press signals to him that Team Biden does not have an adequate level of consensus within the party structure or control over the messages getting out. Under Obama and while Democrats were in the minority under Trump, the party line was the message to the public.
Now the fractures within the Democratic caucus are finding their way into media coverage. Two days before Jean-Pierre’s tweet, the New York Times published an article after discussions with Democrat party officials, members of Congress, and voters. According to the authors, when asked if Biden should run in 2024, “Democratic whispers of ‘No’ start rise.”
Democrat strategist David Axelrod went on the record with concerns about Biden’s age. “The presidency is a monstrously taxing job, and the stark reality is the president would be closer to 90 than 80 at the end of a second term, and that would be a major issue,” Axelrod said. “He looks his age and isn’t as agile in front of a camera as he once was, and this has fed a narrative about competence that isn’t rooted in reality.”
Axelrod’s comments led The View‘s Joy Behar to scold him on air on Tuesday.”David Axelrod should keep his mouth shut. And you know what, Ronald Reagan’s rule was thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican. And I say onto you, David Axelrod, do not speak ill of a fellow Democrat,” Behar demanded.
The day after the Times article, the poster child for the progressive caucus, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), was directly asked if she would support President Biden in 2024. AOC dodged the question by saying she is focused on the midterms in 2022. Obviously uncomfortable, she told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, “I think we should endorse when we get to it.”
AOC is asked if she will support Biden in 2024:
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it." pic.twitter.com/bXkCyxahRb
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) June 12, 2022
The public debate continued after Jean-Pierre’s tweet. She appeared with CNN’s Don Lemon the day after. When he bluntly asked her if Biden had the physical and mental stamina to run, Jean-Pierre shut him down:
WH’s @k_jeanpierre takes offense at CNN’s Don Lemon asking if Biden “has the stamina, physically and mentally” to run in 2024:
“Don, you’re asking me this question! Oh my gosh! He’s the president of the United States!” pic.twitter.com/Y1sRyXg0TF
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 14, 2022
At The Atlantic, Mark Leibovich wrote a few thousand words asking Biden not to run. He points out that Biden was born when FDR was president. Leibovich reasons that while Biden may be healthy for his age, he lacks the vigor for a second term.
As a point of professional comparison, Biden would be enjoying his 15th year of retirement if he had spent his career as a commercial airline pilot, or his 24th year if he had been an air-traffic controller. There’s a reason the FAA mandates compulsory departure times for these positions (65 for pilots, 56 for controllers). These are life-and-death tasks that demand peak stamina and mental acuity. The pressure can be crushing, burnout is rampant, and no one wants to see grandpop in the damn cockpit.
A majority of Americans say they would favor a maximum age for their elected officials too. Of those Americans, about two-thirds think the limit should be 70 or younger. This would send nearly 30 percent of the United States Senate out to pasture. I would call this a good start, as hard as it might be to imagine someone other than Dianne Feinstein or Chuck Grassley charting out our kids’ futures.
As the debate among Democrats continues, Backer wants Biden to settle the issue once and for all. With Jean-Pierre confirming the president’s intention to run for a second term, Biden must comply with federal law. If he fails to do so voluntarily, the FEC should force him to file the appropriate paperwork. Backer likes to point out that President Trump’s campaign filed the paperwork to declare him a candidate for 2020 on Inauguration Day 2017. It is long past time for President Biden to do the same.