President Joe Biden and his family are tackling a weighty question during their Thanksgiving holiday retreat to the chilly quiet ofNantucket: whether he’ll seeka second term in 2024.
A final decision won’t be made on the Massachusetts island, where the Bidens are staying at a home owned by Carlyle Group Inc. co-founder and Bloomberg contributor David Rubenstein while enjoying beach walks, local restaurants and shopping. Biden insisted the weekend getaway was just a holiday celebration, but the president and his closest relatives are expected to discuss a potential re-election bid there and during the Christmas holidays, currentand former aides say.
The president and first lady Jill Biden arrived Tuesday at Nantucket, where they have regularly spent Thanksgiving dating back to before Biden was vice president. A few close family accompanied them, including Biden’s daughter Ashley and his son Hunter, who is expected to be a target of House Republican investigations in the next two years.
Biden has the wind at his back, after his Democratic Partyenjoyed a historically successfulmidterm election. His aideswidely expect him to run again,and his team is moving forwardas if a final announcement is aformality. But the president hassaid his family will have an outsizedsay in the decision, whichisn’t expected until next year.
“If his heart is in it, theyare there for him. It is highlyunlikely they will not supporthim,” said Michael LaRosa, aformer aide to Jill Biden. “He’srunning. And I don’t know whoelse but him should be running.He’s proven himself to be notjust an effective campaigner,but an effective executive.”
‘A family decision’
Biden downplayed the stakes ofthe trip, ignoring shouted questionsabout 2024 on Friday andwhen asked again on Saturdayhow the discussions were going.“We’re not having any, we’recelebrating,” he said to reportersas he, Jill Biden and familyshopped on Nantucket’s MainStreet.
Even so, Biden has repeatedlysaid he intends to run andhas cited only his family or asurprise development, such as ahealth crisis, as deterrents. Theholiday getaway gives him thechance to weigh that decisionoutside of Washington.
“My intention is that I runagain. But I’m a great respecterof fate. And this is, ultimately, afamily decision,” Biden said thismonth, adding a decision couldcome “early next year.”
The Bidens are a fixtureon Nantucket. The area skewsDemocratic, as does New England,where the party sweptUS House and Senate midtermraces. But there are GOP pocketson the island: Republican Senatecandidates Herschel Walker, JDVance and Mehmet Oz all raisedmoney there.
But the smattering of protestersand Trump supporterswho often harry Biden on histravels elsewhere in the countryare absent in Nantucket. Cheersand encouragement greetedhis every move; people linedup at restaurants for a chanceto dine near him and huddledover their phones to comparephotos after he passed by. Thelocal pharmacy sells Joe Bidenaction figures.
Jill Biden, shopping on herown Friday morning, drew acrowd of onlookers outside eachshop she popped into. “We loveyou!” one woman shouted.
After lunch, as the presidentand first lady walked a fewblocks through town and posedfor a photo with one shopkeeper,bystanders shouted “we loveyou Mr. President!” and “nored wave, no red wave”—a referenceto Republicans’ fizzledexpectations of broad midtermgains.
But even among a friendlyaudience, Biden’s age is an issue.The president turned 80on Sunday, making him thefirst octogenarian to occupythe White House. An admirershouted “happy birthday” tohim as he was shopping.
He would turn 82 the monthof the 2024 election and wouldbe 86 at the end of a second term.Many Democrats want theirparty to embrace younger leaders,polls have shown.
“His age is a little bit of a concern,”Wendy Beardsley, 67, otherwisea Biden supporter, saidFriday in Nantucket as Jill Bidenshopped down the street. Shenoted the president’s occasionalstumbles in public remarks.“Sometimes, I don’t watch itbecause he makes me nervousthat he’ll mess up,” she said.But she said the president’saccomplished a lot and she’s generallyhappy with him comparedto alternatives—especially formerPresident Donald Trump,who has already announced athird run for the White House.She would “most definitely”back Biden over Trump, she said.The White House declined tocomment for this story. One aidesaid Biden was underestimatedin 2020 and that questionsabout his age were overblownthen and now.
Jill Biden, his children and grandchildren are all crucialsounding boards for Biden, whooften recounts discussions withthem before deciding on his2020 run.
“They started off and said, ‘Pop, you got to run,’” Biden recalled during a campaign stop on Nov. 1. “The reason I was reluctant to run: I knew how ugly it was going to be.”
The president said his grandson showed him a crude meme smearing Biden as a sexual predator—acknowledging thatit would be ugly for the familyregardless of whether he ran.
“That’s when I decided to run when they asked me to do it,”he recalled. “They knew whatwas coming; it wasn’t going tobe a shock to them.”
Storm clouds loom again forBiden’s family. House Republicansare planning a raft of investigationsnext year, includinginto Hunter Biden’s businessties, which they allege couldcompromise the president.
Biden has largely shruggedoff the threat. “The Americanpeople will look at all of thatfor what it is. It’s just almostcomedy,” he said earlier thismonth.
The investigations, though,will likely bring the family’sdealings and matters such asHunter Biden’s battles with addictionback in the public spotlight.Biden wants to make surehis family is up for another runbecause the process will be morebruising than 2020, one formeraide said.
The first lady holds the most sway in Biden’s decision, aides say.T he president has signaled she’s on board, telling MSN BC last month Jill Biden believes “we’re doing something very important, and I shouldn’t walk away from it.” Bloomberg News