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Obama Democrats Don't Want Biden to Run in 2024: Former Aide

Newsweek 12/6/2022 Nick Reynolds
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers brief remarks before signing bipartisan legislation averting a rail workers strike in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on December 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden helped negotiate a deal between freight rail companies and their workers in September but a union that primarily represents conductors rejected the plan. Siting the need to avert the economic damage caused by a holiday season rail strike, Congress passed legislation imposing the negotiated agreement. © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images U.S. President Joe Biden delivers brief remarks before signing bipartisan legislation averting a rail workers strike in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on December 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. Biden helped negotiate a deal between freight rail companies and their workers in September but a union that primarily represents conductors rejected the plan. Siting the need to avert the economic damage caused by a holiday season rail strike, Congress passed legislation imposing the negotiated agreement.

A former aide to President Barack Obama suggested supporters of the former president largely want to see new blood represented on the ticket in 2024 amid concerns about President Joe Biden's age and the possibility of a GOP resurgence in the upcoming presidential election.

In an appearance on former MI6 Director Richard Dearlove's One Decision podcast earlier this week, Johanna Maska—a longtime advance team official in the Obama White House—suggested now is the time for new leadership in the Democratic Party, particularly as Biden stands as the first and only octogenarian ever to occupy the White House.

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Biden himself has openly contemplated whether he would run again in 2024.

"I worked with President Biden," said Maska. "I have respect for him in the sense that he's been kind of a statesman, and I was hopeful that in coming back in power, he would be a transition president, to bring us back from Donald Trump and figure out what our future is."

"I think that he took the Thanksgiving holiday with his family, now having turned 80 years old, to figure out what he's doing," she added. "I think there are a lot of people from the Obama generation that are saying we need new leadership."

Some, like White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, have already said publicly they believe Biden—who still suffers from anemic approval ratings—will run for reelection.

"I hear from a lot of Democrats across the country that they want him to run, but the president will make that decision after the holidays," Klain told former Wall Street Journal editor Gerald Seib. "But I expect the decision will be to do it."

"I believe he is going to run, and I SO hope that he does," Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in her own comments earlier this month. "I think he's doing an extraordinary job uniting not only this country, but our relationships with our allies. I'm all in with him."

But across Washington, there already appears to be an acknowledgement of the need for new leadership within the Democratic Party, particularly after their candidates' unexpected success in the midterm elections against a bevy of weak Republican candidates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn—both of whom are 82 years old—recently announced they would be stepping away from their leadership posts in the upcoming Congress to elevate a crop of younger Democrats.

Other Democrats nationally, like California Governor Gavin Newsom and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, have sought to elevate their profile on a national stage ahead of a potential 2024 run, though Newsom has explicitly said he would not challenge Biden if he chooses to run again.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee recently retooled its nominating calendar to remove Iowa from its list and instead shift the South Carolina primaries to the forefront, citing its smaller size, cheaper advertising markets, and diversity as its main selling points as a testing ground for candidates' national viability.

Given those conditions, some—like Maska—feel the time is ripe to chart a new trajectory for today's Democratic Party.

Polls taken prior to last month's Election Day showed a majority of Democrats wanted a candidate other than Biden to run in 2024.

And while polls from battleground states like Georgia show Biden with a narrow edge in a rematch with former Republican President Donald Trump in a hypothetical 2024 matchup, he loses ground to upstarts like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has weighed his own run against Trump in the Republican primaries.

"A big robust primary for us on the Democratic side will actually strengthen us," Maska said on the podcast. "We haven't had a robust primary in the sense of being able to secure all of the voter data that we need to really make sure that our Democratic base is strong.

"So I'm not sure that he's going to run. I think he's going to make the decision before April."

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