President Biden on Tuesday officially set up a potential 2024 rematch with former President Trump in an early-morning campaign announcement that almost immediately went after his predecessor and his conservative supporters in Congress.
But a Biden-Trump presidential contest is one many Americans don’t wish to see again, a possible replay of one of the most divisive campaigns in recent history that this time would be marked by Trump’s mounting legal troubles and Biden’s dismal poll numbers.
Still, the campaign video launched by Biden on Tuesday gave an early glimpse into what Democrats plan to focus on early and without a formidable primary candidate yet, it’s clear Biden’s focus will be on what he frequently lambasts are “MAGA Republicans.”
The first image in the three-minute video posted to Twitter shows scenes from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by supporters of former President Trump followed by protests outside the Supreme Court against its decision to overturn Roe v Wade.
“Freedom,” Biden says, followed by a montage of images during his first two years as president in which he ticks off a list of his accomplishments. “That’s been the work of my first term: To fight for our Democracy.”
“But around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take those bedrock freedoms away,” he then says, accompanied by images again of Jan. 6, Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) appearing to embrace and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) during his State of the Union this year in which she yelled “liar” during this speech.
“When I ran for President four years ago, 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.”
“I know what I want the answer to be and I think you do too. This is not a time to be complacent,” he said.
The Republican National Committee, for it’s part, responded almost immediately with it’s own video, an AI-generated compilation of fake news disasters that aims to predict what would happen if Biden won in 2024 that included images of protests, explosions and shuttered storefronts amid a financial market “free fall.”
Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel also wasted no time in responding to Biden’s campaign launch. Less than an hour after the video was posted, she called Biden “out of touch.”
“Biden is so out-of-touch that after creating crisis after crisis, he thinks he deserves another four years,” McDaniel said. “Republicans are united to beat Biden and Americans are counting down the days until they can send Biden packing.”
The Biden video ends on a more positive note, with images of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris greeting people, some of whom are cheering, around the country.
“Let’s finish this job, I know we can,” the president says, repeating a phrase he’s been using since his State of the Union that has now become part of his campaign slogan.
Experts and strategists believe there are several factors contributing to the public’s lack of desire to see Trump and Biden face each other for a second time.
“Often, when you ask people, ‘Would you like someone else,’ it’s easy to conjure a hypothetical alternative candidate,” said David Hopkins, an author and political science professor at Boston College. “But when you ask people about flesh and blood alternatives, they tend to be less popular.”
Biden, who turned 80 years old in November, announced his second bid after months of saying he intends to run and with questions lingering over whether his age and mental stamina would prevent him from holding the office again. Biden would be 82 at the start of a second term. He was the oldest president ever to be sworn-in when he took office in 2020.
Biden in recent weeks has hinted that he plans to run for reelection but left timing up in the air until reports surfaced late last week that his team was preparing to make the announcement via video on Tuesday.
His campaign apparatus also slowly started to take shape on Tuesday. Shortly after the video release, the Biden-Harris campaign sent an email announcing Julie Chavez Rodriguez as campaign manager and Quentin Fulks as deputy campaign manager.
Chavez previously was deputy campaign manager for Biden-Harris 2020 and Fulks is a former campaign manager for Sen. Rafael Warnock (D-Ga.). White House aides Anita Dunn and Jen O’Malley Dillon are likely to play a central role in the campaign from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The announcements on Tuesday came on the four-year anniversary of Biden launching his 2020 campaign.
But Biden – and also Trump – will be faced with a country that has little appetite for a 2020 matchup, according to recent polls.
An NBC News poll published Sunday found 70 percent of Americans and 51 percent of Democrats don’t think Biden should run for reelection in 2024. The same poll found 60 percent of Americans and roughly one-third of Republicans do not think Trump should run again.
Biden won the 2020 election against then-President Donald Trump, clinching 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, and winning the popular vote by over 7 million.
Trump, who was arraigned in April on 34 counts of falsifying business records, announced in November that he plans to run for another term, setting up the possible rematch of Biden versus Trump in 2024 – an option both Democrats and Republicans are less than thrilled by.
Biden at this point though is still expected to be the Democratic presidential nominee. The only Democrats to announce campaigns challenging him are political outsiders and unlikely to draw significant support. Author Marianne Williamson, who ran in 2020, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has promoted anti-vaccine conspiracies, have both formally jumped in the race.
The president has also faced hurdles in other areas. His poll numbers began to steadily sink following the chaotic and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, which is now the subject of an investigation by the GOP-controlled House.
So is his son, Hunter Biden, who House Republicans are probing over a host of matters, namely tying his business dealings abroad to his father. Those investigations have so far produced little fruit.
Republicans flipped the House in the midterms contest but landed a far narrower majority than projected. Meanwhile, Democrats held onto the Senate, marking the first time since President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House that a president did not lose a single incumbent senator of the same party during his first midterm election.
Updated 9 a.m.
Brett Samuels contributed.