April 25 (Al Jazeera) – United States President Joe Biden has officially launched his campaign for re-election in 2024, becoming the Democratic frontrunner in a race that could pit him for a second time against Republican contender Donald Trump, according to his campaign video.
Biden’s announcement on Tuesday came on the fourth anniversary of his first successful presidential bid, launched on April 25, 2019.
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A majority of Democrats have said they would back Biden, 80, against a Republican challenger in next year’s election, a recent poll found.
But the Democratic president faces some of the lowest approval ratings of his tenure so far, and his age — Biden is currently the oldest person to hold the US’s highest office — has spurred questions about his re-election prospects.
Biden, who would be 86 at the end of a second term, is betting his first-term legislative achievements and more than 50 years of experience in Washington will count for more than concerns over his age. He faces a smooth path to winning his party’s nomination, with no serious Democratic rivals. But he is still set for a hard-fought struggle to retain the presidency in a bitterly divided nation.
“I said we are in a battle for the soul of America, and we still are,” Biden said. “The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer.”
Few things have unified Democratic voters such as the prospect of Trump returning to power. And Biden’s political standing within his party stabilised after Democrats notched a stronger-than-expected performance in last year’s midterm elections, as the president set out to run again on the same themes that buoyed his party last fall, particularly on preserving access to abortion.
“Freedom. Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans. There’s nothing more important. Nothing more sacred,” Biden said in the launch video, which painted the Republican Party as trying to roll back access to abortion, cut Social Security, limit voting rights and ban books they disagree with.
“Around the country, MAGA [Make America Great Again] extremists are lining up to take those bedrock freedoms away. This is not a time to be complacent. That’s why I’m running for reelection.”
Biden is facing a couple of long-shot primary challengers – including self-help guru Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr – but as a sitting president, he comes into race for the Democratic nomination as a clear frontrunner.
The nominee will be confirmed at the party’s national convention in Chicago in August 2024.
On the Republican side, Trump is widely considered to be the 2024 frontrunner.
The former president announced his campaign in November, but since then he has faced a series of legal woes, including criminal charges in New York over alleged hush-money payments he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Still, Trump – who has pleaded not guilty in the case – maintains strong support, with NBC News finding this month that 46 percent of Republican primary voters would support him.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had the second-highest level of Republican support at 31 percent, though he has yet to formally announce his candidacy.
Should Trump gain the Republican nomination, it would set Biden up for a rematch of the hard-fought 2020 election, which he won thanks to victories in key swing states.
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