Biden confirms Kamala Harris would be running mate in 2024
Addressing a press conference to mark his first year in office on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden confirmed that if he runs for a second term in 2024, he would nominate vice-president Kamala Harris as his running mate again, even as he blamed Republican obstructionism for blocking progress in his first year in office and committed to greater public outreach to explain the administration’s work in his second year.
The president commended his administration for progress in the battle against Covid-19, while acknowledging that the job remained unfinished, and battling unemployment, which was at 3.9% in December. Biden outlined steps that he was taking to tame to inflation – focusing on supply chain issues and indicating a role for the Federal Reserve in terms of monetary policy.
He indicated a willingness, for the first time, to break up his signature legislation, the $1.9 trillion Build Back Better plan, into smaller components and pass whatever was possible at the moment. And he reiterated his commitment to getting bills related to voting rights passed, even as it failed to muster the numbers in the Senate the same evening.
When asked if he was satisfied with VP Harris’s work on voting rights (Biden has given her charge of the contentious issue), and if he would nominate her as his running mate again if he stood in 2024, Biden said, “Yes and yes.”
His remarks, though not unusual since it would have been rare for a sitting president to undermine his VP, assume salience given recent critical reports in the US media about Harris’s working style, and possible challenges from other contenders in the party if she positions herself as a presidential candidate in 2024. Biden would be 82 in 2024.
But the focus of Biden’s remarks on domestic US politics rested on critiquing Republicans: he repeatedly wondered what they stood for, alleged they had been far more obstructionist than they had been even during Barack Obama’s presidency, and claimed that the entire party was in fear of “one man” who had lost office, hinting at Donald Trump.
“Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they’re unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary? I have had five Republican senators talk to me, bump into me, or sit with me, who’ve told me that they agree with whatever I’m talking about for them to do. ‘But, Joe, if I do it, I’m going to get defeated in a primary’”, he said.
The president, who is battling unfavourable ratings, said he would do three things differently in the second year of office.
“Number one, I am going to get out of this place more often. I’m going to go out and talk to the public… Number two, I am also going to be out there seeking the advice of experts outside, from academia, to editorial writers, to think tanks,” he said.“And the third thing I’m going to be doing is be deeply involved in these off-year elections. We’re going to be raising a lot of money. We’re going to be out there making sure that we’re helping all of those candidates,” Biden further said. He was referring to elections to the House of Representatives, and one-third of the seats in the Senate in November this year.
The Democrats, at the moment, command a majority in the House, while the Senate is split 50:50. Observers believe that the outcome in the mid-terms will have a major impact on the remaining two years of the Biden presidency.