Columnist Richard Fein: Biden is a weak candidate. He should run for re-election anyway


Published: 06-25-2023 9:56 AM

Mr. President, I am concerned that you will be a weak candidate in the 2024 presidential election . Your age is a legitimate concern for the American people. At 80, you are already the oldest American president ever, and you would be 86 at the end of a second term. By comparison Dwight Eisenhower turned 70 just before his term ended and Ronald Reagan was 77 when he left office. In public venues you have already fallen, forgotten the names of your grandchildren and where they live, lost your train of thought, and recently ended a speech in Hartford, Connecticut with “God save the queen, man.” The audience was quite perplexed.

You have minimized your exposure to the news media. You have held the fewest news conferences since Ronald Reagan. You have given just a fourth of the interviews Donald Trump did in the same time period and a fifth of Barack Obama’s interviews — and none at all to reporters from a major newspaper. A reasonable inference to draw is that you are afraid of making gaffes or appearing confused.

Your personal approval rating according to a recent Gallup poll is 39% approval, 57% disapprove. Other major polls indicate approximately the same numbers. Gallop also reported that your age and Trump’s legal troubles are turning away voters by almost the same percentage (37% and 34% respectively). That is your age is as much a negative factor for you as a criminal indictment is for Trump. According to a Pew Research poll, only 19% of Americans rate current economic conditions as excellent or good, 46% say conditions are only fair and 35% rate the economy as poor. Asked to look ahead to next year, 46% said they expect economic conditions to worsen, 36% believe conditions will be about the same. Only 17% think that the economy will improve. Those numbers do not augur well for an incumbent president.

You have troubles even within your own party. According to CNN, you are ahead in the Democratic primary election polls, but other announced candidates (Kennedy, Williamson) have a cumulative 28% and an additional 8% said they would vote for an unnamed “someone else.” Support from critical constituencies seems to be weakening. A national poll by FiveThirtyEight indicated that “Biden’s approval has dropped dramatically among Black Americans since he took office in January 2021. But the biggest decline wasn’t among Black Americans: It was among Hispanic Americans.”

Vice-President Kamala Harris will presumably be your running mate. She will be scrutinized more than most VP candidates as the possible president because of your age. Putting it bluntly, she would become president if you die and octogenarians have a tendency to do that. Harris has had a bumpy tenure as vice president dating back to the start of the administration. If you are asked to name three of her accomplishments what would you say? Let’s make this easier. Could you name at least one?

You designated the VP to deal with the crisis of thousands of uninvited migrants crossing over our southern border every day. Harris spent weeks in Central America to address “root causes” before taking a day to visit the southern border itself. You met last month with the top congressional leaders to prevent a government default on the national debt. Vice President Harris was not at the meeting, although she was in Washington and did not have any public events on her schedule that day. Fairly or not, her approval ratings are even lower than yours. Bottom line, Harris is not likely to be an asset in the election.

President Biden, despite your weakness as a candidate I hope that you will continue to seek re-election for a second term. You have many achievements to your credit. For example, you restored dignity to the White House, started the process of re-industrializing America and resurrected a strong NATO alliance that Trump tried to kill. Unfortunately those and other achievements don’t seem to be helping you in the polls.

If you withdraw, Vice President Harris would be the most likely Democratic party nominee. She would be an even weaker candidate than you are and there are no strong Democrats waiting in the wings.

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There is some good news. It is 17 months before the presidential election. National and international events currently unseen might work in your favor. In addition, the likely Republican nominee, Donald Trump, might self destruct. For my part, I will do everything possible to help you win. Our country’s future as a Constitutional democracy depends on it.

Richard Fein holds a master of arts degree in political science and an MBA in economics. He can be reached at]]>