WASHINGTON Representatives from the White House are closely monitoring the political activity of at least six Democrats who are viewed as possible challengers to President Joe Biden in the 2024 election.
In reaction to those who appear to be getting a little too ambitious on their own, the administration appears to be analyzing the words and deeds of the nation’s rising Democrats and launching a charm offensive.
The White House-friendly Democrats’ plan, which they claim relies too much on soft power and lacks a traditional enforcer, hasn’t proven to be very successful. Biden hasn’t been able to stop Democrats from gaining national attention or dispel party-wide skepticism about his inevitable victory.
Interviews with almost two dozen current and former White House employees, congressmen, Democratic fundraisers, and other sources close to the Biden operation served as the basis for this report.
The White House was keen to host Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and California Governor Gavin Newsom at separate parties after they acquired popularity by dabbling in national politics.
A person familiar with the meeting said that this month in Washington, Newsom convinced White House chief of staff Ron Klain that he has no plans to run for president in 2024.
Days later, Newsom started airing attack commercials in Texas against Governor Greg Abbott over gun control and abortion rights.
Biden and other key White House officials had to spend time on Capitol Hill courting progressive critics who had also sparked talk of 2024 goals, such Rep. Ro Khanna of California, with private compliments.
Additionally, the Biden press office has produced a series of quotations from potential opponents who say they support the president. (Remarks from Pritzker, Khanna, and Newsom are all from the same piece in early July).
Nobody enjoys witnessing someone remove their coffins. It’s just like, not that quickly. Donor to the Democratic Party John Morgan remarked, “I’ll decide this.” It’s as if they were attending a swimming competition where Biden was the defending champion. However, they all had swimsuits on underneath their clothes. As soon as he says to go, they are prepared to climb up there and jump. They can’t be moving around the arena in nothing but a bathing suit, as that would really irritate Biden.
According to Biden friends, the White House is more concerned about his possible opponents making comparisons with him on policy than it is about keeping foes close. In interviews, a number of White House representatives stressed that the administration is neither worried or troubled by the prospect of a rare intraparty challenge against an incumbent president.
However, the strategy also highlights the White House’s power limitations at a time when Biden’s support ratings are plummeting and up to three-quarters of Democrats are telling pollsters they would prefer a new candidate for president in 2024.
The White House is revising its plans for what it says will be a busy travel schedule this fall on behalf of Democratic candidates across the board in light of the president’s speedy recovery from Covid and his agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to advance more of the White House agenda.
That belies an understanding, according to people close to the White House political operation, that the administration, including Biden himself, is at a poor political moment. Read the polls, Jack, the president retorted in response to a reporter’s question about his message to Democrats who oppose his bid for reelection. Everyone among you is the same. According to that survey, 92 percent of Democrats would support me if I ran for office.
However, according to a survey called the poll Biden cited by The New York Times and Siena College, 64% of Democrats would prefer that the party pick someone else instead of him. In a CNN poll published on Wednesday, that percentage was listed as 75%.
Such polls provide other Democrats a clear incentive to start revving up their campaign machinery. However, White House allies claim that there is no window of opportunity.
According to Hillary Clinton’s longtime advisor and Democratic strategist Philippe Reines, this is on the verge of foolishness. Good luck to anyone who tries to block Kamala’s nomination if, for any reason, Biden isn’t leading the ticket. Particularly a white guy,” he continued, referring to Kamala Harris, the vice president.
However, some of Biden’s allies are concerned that he has the temperamental fortitude to neutralize any possible challenges by himself and claim that he hasn’t provided his political operation with a crucial tool: a hatchet man.
The 2012 re-election campaign of then-President Barack Obama attempted to avert a potential challenge from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, according to Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager. To stop Bernie and discourage him from running, he employed Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate at the time, as an intermediary.
One former staffer from the Biden White House bemoaned the lack of a hammer in the Biden camp.
An old Biden buddy continued, “There is no one in the government that everyone is terrified of.” Nobody in the White House takes them seriously because they have no enforcement.
Without such power, the White House has found it difficult to dispel rumors that Joe Biden, 79, is too elderly or politically incompetent to seek reelection. And because of that, he runs the risk of being perceived as a lame duck in just his second year in office.
In his communications with the potential 2024 candidates, Biden himself has used more honey than vinegar.
Following the Highland Park, Illinois, mass shooting on July 4th, the president invited Pritzker to the Oval Office where they discussed the need for additional gun reform and he once more extended an offer of any necessary federal assistance to the city, according to Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, who was also present.
The governor had just a week before warned that the president might face a primary challenge and that there is historical precedent for it, though he stressed that he wasn’t advocating a challenge. However, Biden then took a time to pour praise on the governor.
According to an individual who was informed on the conversation, Biden said, “You guys have a fantastic governor in Illinois.” He is passing the legislation that the nation and Washington, D.C., need.
Before they all walked out to the event together, Biden took pictures with the group and they all sat on the terrace.
Prior to the governor’s visit to New Hampshire in June, top Pritzker aides also called the White House’s external relations team after realizing the significance of the event. According to a person with firsthand knowledge of the exchanges, aides supplied a video clip of the governor publicly declaring he was not interested in challenging Biden along with the heads-up. Before Pritzkers’ subsequent speech to Florida Democrats, in which he attacked Gov. Ron DeSantis, they did the same.
These excursions merely increased media attention and conjecture regarding 2024.
Newsom has made it a point to attempt to quell rumors about presidential ambitions in discussions with party officials, despite the fact that people close to him believe he could easily change his mind about running in 2024.
Christine Pelosi, a member of the DNC from California and the daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., texted Newsom earlier this month to inquire about his plans and was informed that he had informed her that he would not be running for office.
He’s just upset that Republicans have been able to dominate this conversation “on some subjects” and that Democrats have to work harder to reclaim it and highlight our achievements, she continued. He stated as such.
To prove to Democrats who doubt his political viability that he is the one who can defeat Trump, Biden has recently begun drawing even stronger comparisons with former President Donald Trump, who may make a 2024 run before the midterm elections in November.
The day before Trump arrived to Washington to give a speech on law and order, Biden criticized the previous president for the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 in remarks made virtually to law enforcement officials on Monday.
Pro-cop and pro-insurrection are incompatible, according to Biden. He was set to appear at the event in person as part of a two-city trip in Florida, a crucial battleground state, which also included his first midterm campaign rally. The Democratic National Committee announced a new date for the trip.
Biden uses Trump to support his case to other Democrats that he is their best chance of keeping the White House.
You can’t, in my opinion, jump into “the” Trump comparison too soon. For us, it serves as the perfect backdrop, a White House official said. What more convincing reason does Gavin Newsom have to defeat Trump?
Earlier in month, Biden had a 42 to 40 percent advantage over Trump in an Yahoo! News/YouGov survey. While Harris and Trump deadlocked at 41 percent, Newsom edged Trump 40 to 39 percent.
The former Democratic National Committee chairman and governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, dismissed the idea of a primary challenge.
The president has declared that he will seek reelection. We must all come together to support Joe Biden as his team gets ready to run for re-election. According to McAuliffe, who is a candidate for a cabinet seat or other prominent position in the Biden administration, Democrats are always in a negative frame of mind.
He also mentioned how much is at stake when elected officials challenge a president who is in office.
Every Democratic governor aspires to have a positive relationship with the White House and the president. They want one of these brand-new “computer chip” factories to be built in their state. They don’t want to damage their connection with the White House, so they want to make sure they get funding for infrastructure.