President Biden is taking his time shifting into campaign mode.
In the nearly two weeks since he announced his reelection bid, Biden met with donors in Washington, D.C., and his 2024 campaign has rolled out a pair of ads in major swing states.
But Biden has kept a low profile rather than capitalizing on the campaign launch.
It is in line with the campaign’s general strategy around Biden’s reelection bid, which was rolled out with an early morning video and was not accompanied by any grand events or major fundraising announcements.
One Democratic strategist described it as a “really subtle launch” that is a “reflection of the type of candidate he is, but also the stage of his life he’s in.”
A few public, campaign events
During the first week of the campaign, launched April 25, the focus was on engagement with the launch video, which got over 12 million organic views, and outreach to over 5,000 key stakeholders in the Biden coalition, according to the campaign. The president also got together with donors that week, and the campaign had engagements with the Biden-Harris 2020 volunteer community.
In the nearly two weeks since the launch, the president has had a handful of public and campaign-related events, including donor meetings and the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday was asked about Biden’s light schedule and told reporters he’d been having “internal meetings in the Oval Office” to discuss “issues that matter to the American people.”
And while most campaigns are quick to tout significant fundraising hauls immediately following a launch, the Biden campaign has yet to release any figures.
Republicans latch onto slow start
Former President Donald Trump, who is the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, sought Thursday to highlight the Biden campaign’s relative silence.
“We’re now more than a week out from Crooked Joe Biden’s disastrous re-election campaign launch. And what news have we heard about his fundraising numbers? Crickets,” Trump’s campaign said in a fundraising email, suggesting the Biden campaign could not compete with the former president’s grassroots donors.
Other Republicans have made the case that Biden isn’t a strong enough candidate to go out in public and do a big reelection event, likening it to his strategy in 2020, when he was largely confined to his Delaware home by the coronavirus pandemic.
“He launched. He didn’t do a rally. So they’re going to hide him,” Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said shortly after Biden’s announcement.
There’s ‘no drama’
But Democrats argue Trump’s frontrunner status in the GOP only adds to the incentive for Biden to cede the spotlight, suggesting the president shouldn’t get in the way of his predecessor’s ongoing legal troubles and negative headlines.
“There is no real sense of urgency to begin campaigning in earnest just yet, particularly when the attention on his likely opponent’s multiple legal perils is top-of-mind in the political realm,” said former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.), a Biden ally and senior policy adviser at Nossaman LLP.
Biden’s incoming 2024 campaign manager, Julie Chávez Rodríguez, is expected to leave her post in the White House to officially move to the campaign in mid-May, an arrangement that has stalled some decision-making in the aftermath of the launch. Biden allies say the bid will really dive into an active campaign once she is fully engaged.
“I think they’ve handled it well. Like everything else they do, there’s no drama,” said Jim Kessler, a co-founder of the centrist think tank Third Way. “It’s a reelection, and we’re 18 months out. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint.”
Instead, the White House has sought to emphasize that Biden is prioritizing his work as president on issues relevant to the public.
Debt ceiling, travel on agenda
Biden will host a high-stakes meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other leaders about the debt limit Tuesday at the White House.
Democrats argue that he’s doing the job as president as opposed to fully turning toward running again.
“The Biden campaign does not even know who he is running against, and he has a full-time job. He happens to be dealing with the mother of all hot potatoes: debt ceiling,” said Ivan Zapien, a lobbyist and former Democratic National Committee official.
“I think it wise to focus on his day job, let the Republicans sort out who they are going to nominate, figure out how to stop the world economy from crashing, avoid WWIII, and once he is done with that, go campaign – the guy has his priorities right,” Zapien said.
There have been other various engagements from the Biden-Harris team to push out issues and raise money.
Vice President Harris traveled Thursday to Richmond, Va., to give a speech on supporting small businesses, and she held a reproductive rights rally last week at Howard University in Washington, D.C. And, Biden reportedly is headed to New York City next week for a fundraiser.
The Bidens have also recently traveled abroad. First lady Jill Biden went to the United Kingdom on Thursday for the coronation of King Charles III. Last month, the president went to Ireland and Northern Ireland. He will travel to Asia later this month for the Group of Seven summit, followed by a stop in Australia.
Allies say the campaign team is working through how best to show off Biden’s accomplishments while Republican rivals fight amongst themselves for the nomination.
“I think the ‘issue arsenal’ Biden enjoys against his opponents is vast, and his team is deciding how best to deploy it,” Carney said.
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