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Will he or won’t he? Pressure mounts on Biden for post-midterm decision 

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President Biden will face mounting pressure to announce his intentions about whether he will run for reelection immediately after the midterm elections — pretty much regardless of the outcome.  

But pressure will only intensify, some Democrats say, if their candidates perform poorly on Nov. 8.  

That is increasingly a concern for Democrats, who have long seen holding the House majority as a longshot but held out hopes they could keep their Senate majority.  

That’s still a possibility, but with races tightening in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, angst is rising in Democratic circles about the results.  

For much of the summer, Democrats were feeling optimistic about the Senate, so a loss of both chambers would be a bitter pill to swallow.  

That outcome will almost certainly lead to stronger calls for Democrats to dump Biden ahead of 2024. 

“No matter what happens, there’s going to be pressure on him to make a decision sooner rather than later,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, who served as a senior aide to the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 

But Manley agreed a poor showing for Democrats in the midterms would be more problematic for the president.  

“The bigger the loss, the more of a factor it will play in his own decisionmaking process,” Manley added. “If it’s a rout, obviously there are going to have to be changes in a lot of different areas.” 

In the House, if Democrats lose dozens and dozens of seats, it will add to the pressure on Biden.  

“If House Democrats were to take a shellacking, there will be loud voices out there asking for him to make an announcement,” Manley said.  

It’s quite unclear that Biden wants to make an announcement one way or the other quickly after the election.  

Biden is known to be deliberative, if not outright slow, in making electoral decisions.  

In 2020, he was criticized for entering the race months after other Democratic rivals.  

In 2016, as he debated whether to enter the race following his son Beau Biden’s death, many of his donors and supporters were already locked in with Hillary Clinton. He did seriously consider a late entry, but by then it was too late. 

Biden looks back on that decision with regret given his confidence that he would have defeated former President Trump in 2016, preventing his presidency.  

Now Trump is almost certainly on Biden’s mind again as he weighs his future. The former president is teasing a White House bid for 2024 and may make his own decision not long after the midterms.  

Other Democrats thinking about running for the White House will want to know what Biden’s plans are quickly so they can lay the groundwork for their own campaigns.

Already there has been some grumbling among Democrats who view Biden’s age — he’ll turn 80 next month — as a major factor.  

They also worry privately that he’s been unable to control the narrative on arguably the most pressing issue facing the White House and Democratic candidates in the midterms: inflation.  

Biden saw his polling numbers inch up briefly after a string of legislative wins over the summer. But the president’s approval ratings now have slipped to 40 percent, according to a Gallup survey released this week. 

“The questions about Biden’s re-elect only subsided because for a few months over the summer, things were going well. Now they’re not,” one Democratic strategist said bluntly. “And while Biden’s accomplishments have been substantial, there’s no getting around the fact that he’s going to be 80 and he’s not our most effective speaker.  

“If Democrats lose Congress, it’ll feel far more consequential than a normal midterm loss, and as always, we’ll blame our messaging and our messengers,” the strategist added. “We focused on the wrong things, and we don’t have the right leaders to rally the troops.”

Republicans are practically eating popcorn as they ready for what they think will be another round of Democratic infighting.  

“My instincts are that the knives will start coming out the day after the midterms that Joe is to blame,” said John Thomas, a GOP consultant who is working on some midterm races. “If progressives win, they’ll say he’s not being progressive enough.  

“The Tim Ryans of the world will say he can’t speak to mainstream Americans on economic issues, that they’re the party of elitists,” Thomas added, referring to the Democratic congressman from Ohio who is running for the Senate in a competitive race against
Republican J.D. Vance.  

Still, Thomas said if Trump does announce soon after the midterms, “it’s a lifeline to Joe Biden. It’s the encore. ‘I came to save the country from the orange man, and I’m the only one who can beat him once again.’” 

Biden hasn’t given a timeline for when he might announce his intentions.  

But he has told aides and allies — including former President Barack Obama and the Rev. Al Sharpton — in private conversations that he is planning on running again.  

And Democratic strategists say Biden, as history has shown, won’t be pressured by any kind of political timeline or public scrutiny.  

“The smartest thing the Biden campaign did in the last election was they thought through a plan and then implemented it without panicking or changing it on every ebb and flow of what TV, Twitter, or people in D.C. were saying,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale.  

“They are putting together their plans now and I think they’re going to announce on the timeline they want no matter what happens in the midterms,” Vale added. “I also don’t think the timing affects the field. If he announces tomorrow, in a month, or in a year no one who has a snowball’s chance in hell is going to run against him.”  

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.  

Source: The Hill

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