Nov 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

How Biden will run


Biden greets visitor after pardoning turkeys at the White House. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As Biden weighs a final decision on whether to run for a second term, White House officials are showing how the powers of the presidency can be harnessed for a re-election campaign.

Driving the news: The emerging strategy is on full display this week. Biden is traveling to Michigan to talk domestic manufacturing and semiconductors, addressing tribal nations at the Interior Department, and hosting a glitzy state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron.

The big picture: It's a formula we can expect to see more of over the next two years as legislating comes to a standstill: diplomatic engagements to emphasize Biden’s statesman role, day trips to swing states and special attention for key Democratic constituencies.

Why it matters: Biden advisers don't expect the president to dominate the news cycle; they want him to fly above it.

  • Democrats' better-than-expected showing in the midterms confirmed team Biden’s theory of the electorate: Voters are concerned about protecting democracy and women’s reproductive rights, and give Biden passing grades on the economy.
  • Biden didn’t pay a political price for only visiting friendly states and spending most weekends at home in Delaware or at Camp David.
  • Many voters appeared to accept his argument that inflation was a global phenomenon and not the direct result of his spending.

What they are saying: “The midterms validated the President’s focus on delivering for the American people and speaking to their priorities,” said a Biden adviser.

  • “Since taking office, he’s traveled the country talking about how he’s lowering costs, bringing back manufacturing and supply chains, protecting and strengthening our democracy at home and abroad, taking action to protect women’s rights and enact tougher gun safety measures and more,” the adviser said.
  • "Voters overwhelmingly affirmed his plan for taking the country forward, so it makes a lot of sense he’s staying focused on continuing to deliver on all the things he’s been talking about forever."

Behind the scenes: Officials are preparing for Biden to get comfortable with — or at least formally embrace — a decision he may have already made on some level. He loves being president and hates the idea of Trump restoring his reign.

  • At the same time, running for president — even from the comfort of the White House and with the advantage of Air Force One — is physically and mentally draining.
  • No one has any illusions about how difficult a re-election campaign will be, especially with an economy staring at a recession.

Between the lines: Officials also know that they need to increase their fundraising to underwrite a big campaign, which will likely be headquartered outside of Washington, either in Delaware or Philadelphia.

  • White House holiday parties are one way that officials plan to reconnect with big-dollar donors, some of whom have felt left out in the cold by Biden’s inner circle.

Go deeper: The White House — and Wall Street — will get a window into the economy this week with a crush of economic data, with September home price index dropping tomorrow.

  • The closely watched Job Openings and Labor Turnover data for October will be released at 10am ET on Wednesday.
  • The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, PCE, is out at 8:30am on Thursday.
  • Then on Friday, the Labor Department will release November’s jobs numbers at 8:30am.
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