President Joe Biden told donors in Boston on Tuesday that he might not be running for reelection had Donald Trump not entered the race.
“If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running,” Biden said, according to reporters present at the event. “But we cannot let him win.”
Biden didn’t immediately elaborate on that thought process, but the admission shouldn’t come as much of a shock.
Going back to 2020, Biden’s campaign pitched him to voters as the party’s best chance at stopping Trump from securing another term in office, arguing that an establishment Democrat would do better in swing states than his progressive rivals for the nomination.
When he succeeded in nabbing the nomination and winning the general election, Trump seemed unlikely to be a formidable opponent in 2024. He’d lost the popular vote by a sizable margin, squandered support in the Republican Party over his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and declared that the American election system had been rigged against him in the 2020 election.
But within two years, Trump had announced his candidacy. He’s currently polling as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination by massive margins.
Then there’s the elephant in the room: At 81 years old, Biden is the oldest sitting president in US history, and more than half of Democrats in a recent poll said they’re concerned about his mental acuity and physical health.
However, Biden touted his age as an asset last month. “The only thing that comes with age is a little bit of wisdom. I’ve been doing this longer than anybody, and guess what? I’m going to continue to do it with your help,” he said in a Labor Day speech in Philadelphia.
At 77, Trump is also one of the oldest presidents to ever occupy the White House. If he were to win another four-year term in 2024, he’d be 82 at its end.
Top Democrats told Reuters last week that Biden dropping out of the race for health issues or other concerns would be disastrous for the party.
“There is no Plan B. If he were ... suddenly not to run, everyone you know would run. The VP scares no one,” a senior Democrat said, referring to Vice President Kamala Harris.
Polling last month, a year before the election, showed Trump ahead of Biden in five key swing states: Nevada, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania.