Biden Preparing to Announce Reelection Campaign Next Week

Photo for The Washington Post by Elizabeth Frantz
President Joe Biden listens to a speaker at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in the White House complex Thursday.

WASHINGTON – President Biden and his team are preparing to announce his reelection campaign next week, with aides finalizing plans to release a video for the president to officially launch his campaign, according to three people briefed on the plans.

Biden and his aides have targeted Tuesday for the release of the video to coincide with the four-year anniversary of his 2020 campaign launch. The people briefed on the plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, cautioned that the official announcement could be delayed.

For months, Biden has signaled he planned to run for a second term, but he has held off an official announcement, as he and his aides felt no urgency to launch a campaign, especially after a better-than-expected midterm performance by the Democrats dampened talk of a primary challenge.

Biden’s top aides have quietly undertaken extensive preparations for a run, holding regular meetings with the president and first lady since last year in the White House residence. Anita Dunn and Jen O’Malley Dillon, two of Biden’s top advisers, have been overseeing the reelection efforts, including interviewing staff for top roles, while the Democratic National Committee has funded research projects to study the election landscape.

The timing of Biden’s announcement has been the source of debate among the president’s inner circle. An earlier announcement would let the president begin raising money for what could be a tough campaign, while waiting longer would allow Biden to position himself as above the political fray as Republicans battle each other for the GOP nomination.

The planned announcement would move the country one step closer to what could be an extraordinary presidential campaign. Biden, 80, would be 86 at the end of a second term, considerably older than any other president in U.S. history. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, 76, the man he defeated in 2020, has announced his own bid to reclaim the Oval Office, signaling a return to a highly unorthodox presidency should he succeed.

The White House declined to comment. “What I will say is that any announcement or anything that is related to 2024 certainly will not come from here,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said Thursday, referring to rules prohibiting government agencies from campaign activity.

A spokesperson for the DNC also declined to comment.

Democrats have expressed concern in recent weeks that Biden might have to wait until June to announce his campaign if he did not announce soon, because he has an upcoming trip to Japan and Australia in May. A standoff with House Republicans over raising the government’s debt ceiling is likely to consume much of the president’s time in the early summer.

Biden’s expected announcement comes as a special counsel at the Justice Department is investigating his handling of classified information after his lawyers discovered documents at his private office and his home in Wilmington, Del. The Justice Department is also investigating Hunter Biden, the president’s son, for potential tax and gun crimes.

Trump, who now leads in Republican primary polls, faces his own investigations into his handling of classified documents and his role in efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The result of all these probes could be a highly unusual juxtaposition of political and legal battles in the next presidential election.

On the heels of the planned reelection announcement, Biden will meet with top Democratic donors in Washington at the end of next week. Biden’s team has invited roughly 50 to 100 of the party’s top fundraisers and bundlers to a Friday night event with the president, with the goal of energizing contributors and rallying support.

The details of the donor summit are still being finalized, but one option is for Biden to have dinner with the donors on Friday night and his aides to host a briefing for them Saturday. Biden is scheduled to speak at the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington on Saturday night.

Some of the donors say they are expecting to be asked to organize future events to raise money for Biden’s reelection. The national Democratic Party has said it will support Biden’s reelection, and it has no plans to sponsor primary debates.

Biden is not expected to face any serious opposition from elected Democrats for the nomination, despite concerns from some in the party about his age and dissatisfaction among some liberals who say he has not pushed their priorities hard enough. Many Democrats say Biden has been notably successful at passing sweeping legislation, on everything from climate to infrastructure, especially given his narrow congressional majorities.

Two political activists with no elected experience – Marianne Williamson, who ran against Biden in 2020, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of former senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) – have announced they will challenge Biden for the nomination.

During his first term, Biden guided the country out of the most acute phase of the coronavirus pandemic, oversaw the passage of a far-reaching economic stimulus package and signed into law a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and sweeping legislation aimed at tackling climate change and lowering drug costs. But the president has also overseen an uneven economic recovery, characterized by persistent inflation, and is bracing for a volatile fight with House Republicans over the debt ceiling.

On foreign policy, Biden ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, which ended the country’s 20-year war in that country, but the exit proved to be chaotic and deadly. He has also been a global leader in strengthening the trans-Atlantic alliance and rallying much of the world to support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

The president’s political advisers have conducted extensive research on the political and media landscape they will confront in the coming months. They plan a far more aggressive approach than in 2020 to organizing a group of volunteers who will share digital content on social networks like TikTok and messaging apps like WhatsApp, where political advertising is not allowed.

The Biden team has also recruited a “national advisory board” stocked with Democratic governors, senators and other political stars who will travel and speak on Biden’s behalf during the coming campaign. Among other things, the president’s advisers see that as a way to minimize dissent or criticism from within his party.

In preparation for the campaign, White House senior advisers Mike Donilon, Steve Ricchetti, O’Malley Dillon and Dunn have interviewed candidates for senior roles on the campaign.

The interviews have included Jenn Ridder, a Biden 2020 campaign alumnus; Emma Brown, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly’s campaign manager; Quentin Fulks, Georgia Sen. Raphael G. Warnock’s campaign manager; White House director of intergovernmental affairs Julie Chavez Rodriguez; Sam Cornale, executive director of the DNC; and Roger Lau, the DNC’s deputy executive director who was campaign manager for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign.

White House officials, including Dunn, have attended – in their personal capacities – fundraising events for American Bridge, an independent group that has started running television ads to support the Biden reelection bid in North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“Biden veterans have been very engaged,” said Bradley Beychok, the co-founder of American Bridge. “Their participation at our events has been enormously helpful. Donors are energized, engaged and ready to support the reelection.”

The ads boast of Biden’s legislative success in lowering insulin costs, creating jobs and encouraging U.S. manufacturing expansions.

“We should stand behind him to finish the job,” the ads conclude, echoing what is likely to be a key message for Biden’s reelection bid – the notion that he has accomplished a good deal and voters should return him to the White House to “finish the job.”