U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday he has decided to run for a second term and would formally announce his re-election campaign “relatively soon.”
“We’ll announce it relatively soon. But the trip here just reinforced my sense of optimism about what can be done,” Biden told reporters at the tail-end of an emotional trip to Ireland. “I told you my plan is to run again.”
Biden has long said he intended to run for re-election but the lack of a formal announcement has sometimes given jitters to supporters unsure if the 80-year-old Democrat, one of the oldest world leaders, would really commit to another four-year term.
Yet behind the scenes, close aides and allies have already begun putting the steps in place to stand up a campaign infrastructure and fundraising apparatus ahead of a 2024 bid that could be a re-run of the 2020 match-up with Republican ex-president Donald Trump, who has already launched his campaign.
Biden’s expected pitch is to “finish the job” after a first term that included several legislative wins, including billions of dollars in federal funds to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and for new infrastructure.
But Biden’s age makes his re-election bid a historic and risky gamble for the Democratic Party, which faces a tough election map to hold the Senate in 2024 and is the minority in the House of Representatives now. Biden’s approval ratings are stuck in the low 40s; he would be 86 by the end of a prospective second term, nine years older than the average U.S. male life expectancy.
Doctors declared Biden, who does not drink alcohol and exercises five times a week, “fit for duty” after an examination in February. The White House says his record shows that he is mentally sharp enough for the rigors of the job.