President Biden’s White House doesn’t want to give too much attention to former President Trump, even though it knows the attacks are on the way after his announcement of a presidential bid on Tuesday night.
While the White House used Trump as an effective foil during an unexpectedly strong midterms for the party, Biden doesn’t want to get into a mud-slinging contest with his predecessor now that the Senate is safely in Democratic hands.
He also doesn’t want to give Trump oxygen as he tries to mount a return to the White House.
That doesn’t mean Democrats will ignore Trump’s attacks on Biden.
The White House and Democratic National Committee (DNC) have signaled they are prepared to defend Biden’s record and remind the country of Trump’s, a strategy that would leave the attacks on Trump to surrogates — allowing Biden to focus on his day job of being president.
Biden and his team gave subtle nods to Trump’s announcement on Tuesday.
The White House unveiled a new web page titled “The Biden-Harris Record” that outlines the administration’s accomplishments on more than a dozen topics, including infrastructure, reproductive rights and climate.
The president’s personal Twitter account on Tuesday posted a video with the caption “Donald Trump failed America” that highlighted the former president’s rhetoric about the Capitol riot, his opposition to abortion access and his inability to pass an infrastructure bill.
And the DNC announced Tuesday it is hiring press staff in early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to drive local coverage of Trump and other potential candidates.
Biden himself has sought to play it cool.
The president, who is in Bali, Indonesia, for the Group of 20 summit, was with French President Emmanuel Macron as Trump was set to take the stage to make his 2024 announcement in Florida.
Reporters asked Biden and Macron if they had a reaction to Trump’s news. The two looked at each other briefly, and each cracked a slight smirk.
“Not really,” Biden said.
Trump’s presence in the 2024 field is unlikely to change Biden’s own calculus for running for reelection.
Biden, who turns 80 on Sunday, has emerged from the midterms in a stronger position to run for reelection and has said he will discuss the matter with his family over the holidays.
“President Biden is not under any immediate pressure to respond in kind. Letting Trump’s announcement sink in with the electorate is probably one of the smartest pre-campaign decisions the Biden team can make,” said former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), a Biden ally.
There are still questions in Democratic circles on whether Biden is up for another term and whether he’d be vulnerable to defeat in 2024 — especially to a non-Trump Republican candidate such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Polls suggested ahead of the elections that a large number of Democrats wanted a different choice for president in 2024.
Yet Biden did defeat Trump in 2024 and is generally seen by most Democrats as the party’s strongest candidate despite his low poll numbers.
Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright said there’s “absolutely not” pressure on Biden to announce, especially given the Democrats’ better-than-expected performance this midterm cycle.
“Democrats, Republicans and independent thinkers demonstrated that they are more in line with Joe Biden’s way of governing and his presidency than they are the right-wing, MAGA, election-denying, insurrection-supporting leader … and I think the midterms were a referendum on the former president,” he said.
Even some Republicans think Biden should stick with his timeline and not change anything because of Trump.
“There’s no reason that Biden should change his calculus because of Trump’s announcement. One doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the other,” said GOP strategist Doug Heye.
Trump, while launching his 2024 bid, argued that the country had slipped into anarchy under Biden and suggested that voters did not yet realize how bad the Biden administration’s policies would be for them.
Seawright said that Democrats are confident Biden will time his potential reelection announcement well.
“I think the president is probably taking the right approach. I think if anyone understands tone, temperature, timing, direction, it’s Joe Biden,” he said.
The president suggested right after the midterms that if Trump were to run in 2024, he wouldn’t win. When asked at a post-midterms press conference how other world leaders should view this moment for America, with Trump running for the presidency again, Biden said he will make sure Trump doesn’t take power.
“We just have to demonstrate that he will not take power if he does run, making sure he — under legitimate efforts of our Constitution — does not become the next president again,” the president said.
Carney said that Trump’s announcement on Tuesday showed that “his ego and hubris are as high as his energy is low,” while Biden’s future decision on a next term won’t be based on ego.
“President Biden will make a thoughtful, prudent decision based upon what he sees as best for the nation, not what is best for his ego,” he said.
Seawright argued that the real pressure isn’t on Biden, it’s on Trump and what his next steps are now that he has launched his bid.
“The former president might have announced, that’s only step one,” he said, noting that Trump has to see what other Republicans will run in 2024 and what support he gets from Republicans, as well as deal with his own legal challenges.
“If anyone is in a hurry to do anything, it should be Donald Trump,” Seawright said.
–Updated at 8:11 a.m.
Source: The Hill