Recently, President Joe Biden has gained some traction thanks to falling gas costs, solid employment statistics, and a string of legislative triumphs.
And two things have resulted from that momentum:
1) A rise in Biden’s poll numbers.
2) Less chatter is not silence, though.
When asked about Biden seeking reelection late last week, Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Tim Ryan responded, “My opinion is that we need new leadership across the board — Democrats, Republicans, I think it’s time for a generational transition.”
Ryan attended Biden’s speech in Ohio on Friday promoting a new semiconductor plant. Ryan subsequently remarked: “The President indicated from the very beginning he was going to be a bridge to the next generation, which is basically what I was saying.”
It is true that Biden envisioned himself as a mediator.
Just before Covid-19 brought the nation to a standstill in March 2020, Biden was running for president alongside former California senator Kamala Harris, senators Cory Booker and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. “Look, I consider myself as a bridge, not as anything else. There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They represent the future of our country,” he continued.
It’s important to note that Biden omitted to specify whether his bridge status would last for four or eight years. But there’s no denying that he advertised himself as a type of Band-Aid while he was campaigning for president.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Ryan’s criticism of Biden was not totally sincere. Nationally, the President’s approval rating is not great, and in Ohio, it is considerably worse. This implies that if Ryan wants to have a chance of taking the seat currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman, he must find a way to distance himself from Biden and the national Democratic Party. Therefore, it serves Ryan’s political interests for him to appear cool (or lukewarm) toward the notion of a Biden 2024 run.
Additionally, Ryan has brought up the subject of aging at the highest levels of the party before. Ryan himself ran for office in 2020, and he questioned whether Biden had the “energy” to defeat Trump. In 2016, the congressman unsuccessfully ran against Nancy Pelosi for the job of House Democratic leader, stating that it was time for a new generation to take the reins.
But he is by no means the only Democrat to have expressed doubt about a Biden reelection campaign.
A new generation of compelling, prepared, and dynamic Democrats should step up, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips said at the end of July. At the beginning of August, New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney said she didn’t “believe [Biden is] running for re-election,” but later apologized and said she wanted Biden to do just that. Angie Craig, a congresswoman from Minnesota, was more direct last month when she said, “I would say we need new leaders in Washington up and down the ballot in the Democratic Party.”
Polling results confirm these reservations. Two-thirds of Democratic voters said they preferred someone other than Biden to be the party’s presidential contender in 2024, according to a New York Times/Sienna College poll issued in July.
Remember what happened two months ago? And since then, Biden’s political prospects have undoubtedly risen. However, remarks like the one made by Ryan last week should serve as a reminder that there are still a lot of questions about Biden’s capacity to run and win in 2024 among Democrats.