2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (2024)

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Peter Baker

Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent, has covered the last five presidents.

In announcing his re-election bid, Biden defies Trump and history.

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WASHINGTON — President Biden formally announced on Tuesday that he would seek a second term, arguing that American democracy still faces a profound threat from former President Donald J. Trump as he set up the possibility of a climactic rematch between the two next year.

In a video that opens with images of a mob of Trump supporters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the president said that the “fight for our democracy” has “been the work of my first term” but is incomplete while his predecessor mounts a comeback campaign for his old office that Mr. Biden suggested would endanger fundamental rights.

“Around the country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms,” Mr. Biden said, using Mr. Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan to describe the former president’s allies. “Cutting Social Security that you’ve paid for your entire life while cutting taxes for the very wealthy. Dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books and telling people who they can love. All while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.”

“When I ran for president four years ago,” he added, “I said we were in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are.”

In a speech later in the day to a supportive labor group in Washington, Mr. Biden focused more on bread-and-butter issues, boasting of his record of creating jobs and financing new roads and bridges. “Let’s finish the job,” he said, repeating his slogan of late to a crowd that obligingly chanted, “Four more years!”

The official declaration finally ended any lingering suspense over Mr. Biden’s intentions and effectively cleared the way to another nomination for the president, barring unforeseen developments. While he had repeatedly and consistently said he intended to run, Mr. Biden stoked renewed speculation by delaying his kickoff for months. Now his team can assemble the formal structure of a campaign organization and raise money to finance it.

Mr. Biden tapped Julie Chávez Rodríguez, a senior White House adviser and granddaughter of the iconic labor leader Cesar Chávez, as his campaign manager. Quentin Fulks, a Democratic operative who most recently ran Senator Raphael Warnock’s 2022 re-election campaign in Georgia, will serve as her principal deputy. But the operation is expected to be overseen from the White House by top presidential aides.

Although he described himself as “a bridge” to the next generation during his 2020 campaign, a comment that some interpreted as a hint that he would serve only one term, Mr. Biden concluded that he was not in fact ready to hand over the torch yet. His decision was fueled in part, aides said, by his antipathy for Mr. Trump and his belief that he is the Democrat best positioned to keep the criminally indicted and twice-impeached former president from recapturing the White House.

In offering himself as a candidate again, Mr. Biden is asking Americans to trust him with the powers of the commander in chief well into his ninth decade. At age 80, Mr. Biden is already the oldest president in American history, and, if he were to win, he would be 86 at the end of a second term, nearly nine years older than Ronald Reagan was when he left the White House in 1989. Mr. Trump, no youngster at 76, would himself outlast every president by age if he were restored to the Oval Office and finished his new term at 82.

As Mr. Biden formally kicked off his campaign, he appeared at this point to be a virtual lock to win his party’s nomination. While many Democrats had hoped he would cede to a younger candidate, no formidable challenger for the nomination has emerged. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a son of the iconic assassinated senator and a vocal critic of vaccines, and Marianne Williamson, the self-help author whose 2020 campaign fizzled before the first votes were cast, have announced long-shot bids but pose little evident threat to the incumbent president.

If Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump square off again next year, it would be the first time that the same nominees faced each other in consecutive presidential elections since 1956, when Dwight D. Eisenhower beat Adlai Stevenson for the second time. It would also be the first time a president was challenged by his predecessor since Theodore Roosevelt attempted a comeback in 1912 against his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, in a three-way campaign won by Woodrow Wilson.

While Mr. Biden presides over a more unified party than his potential challenger does, many Democrats privately worry that the president may not be up to another campaign. His overall approval rating remains mired at just over 42 percent, according to an aggregation of polls by the political website FiveThirtyEight, lower than 10 of the last 13 presidents at this point in their terms.

While polls show that most Democrats have favorable opinions about Mr. Biden, a majority of them would still rather he not run again. In a survey by NBC News released this week, 70 percent of Americans, including 51 percent of Democrats, said he should not seek a second term. Seven out of 10 of those who did not want him to serve four more years cited his age as a factor.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump face a strikingly competitive race, with recent polls by Yahoo News, The Wall Street Journal and Morning Consult showing the president slightly ahead while surveys by The Economist and the Harvard University Center for American Political Studies find him trailing by several points. Mr. Biden faces similarly mixed results against Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, the strongest challenger to Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination.

Mr. Trump did not even wait for Mr. Biden’s video to be posted to attack the president’s re-election announcement, castigating him in a statement on Monday night for high inflation, gas prices and illegal immigration. “You could take the five worst presidents in American history, and put them together, and they would not have done the damage Joe Biden has done to our nation in just a few short years,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “Not even close.”

Mr. Biden’s announcement represented the latest improbable chapter in a long life in public office, the fourth time he has thrown his hat in the presidential ring and presumably the last campaign of a half-century-plus career that began with his election to the New Castle County Council in 1970.

Over the course of 36 years in the Senate, eight years as vice president and campaigns for the White House in 1988, 2008 and 2020, Mr. Biden has become one of the most familiar faces in American life, known for his resilience in adversity as well as his habitual gaffes. And yet the avuncular, backslapping, work-across-the-aisle deal maker has struggled to translate decades of good will into the unifying presidency he promised.

Working with the narrowest of partisan margins in Congress, Mr. Biden in his first two years scored some of the most ambitious legislative victories of any modern president, including a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package; a $1 trillion program to rebuild the nation’s roads, highways, airports and other infrastructure; and major investments to combat climate change, lower prescription drug costs for seniors, treat veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and build up the nation’s semiconductor industry. Some of those bills passed with Republican votes.

Along the way, he has revitalized international alliances that had frayed under Mr. Trump, rallying NATO and other partners around the world to stand against Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. With bipartisan support, he has committed more than $100 billion to arm Ukraine’s military and help its government and people survive the Russian onslaught.

Yet his decision to withdraw forces from Afghanistan after 20 years in keeping with an agreement with the Taliban struck by Mr. Trump led to a debacle in 2021 in which the radical militants took over the country, fleeing Afghans swarmed American airplanes taking off from Kabul and a suicide bomber killed 13 American troops and 170 Afghans during the withdrawal.

Mr. Biden has also struggled to secure the southwestern U.S. border, where illegal migration has soared, and he has had mixed success in stabilizing the post-pandemic economy, which saw inflation rise to its highest level in four decades and gas prices shoot up to record levels. While both have begun to come back down and unemployment is near historic lows, many Americans remain unsettled by economic anxiety.

Perhaps most frustrating to Mr. Biden, his hopes to heal the rifts that widened under Mr. Trump have so far been dashed, with American society still deeply polarized and his predecessor still a potent force in stirring the forces of division and emboldening white supremacists and anti-Semites.

The president’s critics say that Mr. Biden is the one who is divisive because of his attacks on Mr. Trump’s “ultra-MAGA Republicans,” and they portray him as a socialist bent on destroying the country. Regardless of whom they nominate, Republicans expect to challenge Mr. Biden next year by linking him to the nation’s economic troubles and depicting him as a f*ckless leader held captive by his party’s activist left.

Even as Mr. Biden put off a formal kickoff to his re-election bid, his team had been quietly making plans for the coming campaign. Top advisers such as Anita Dunn, Steven J. Ricchetti and Jennifer O’Malley Dillon will oversee the campaign from the White House even though the operation’s formal headquarters will almost certainly be in Wilmington, Del., under Ms. Chávez Rodríguez’s direction.

But it will be much different than any campaign in which Mr. Biden has ever run. His first two bids for the White House each collapsed by the end of the first caucus, in an era long before the ubiquitous presence of social media and modern technological techniques, and his 2020 campaign was warped by the Covid-19 pandemic, which kept him largely isolated at his home in Delaware.

This time aides said he planned a vigorous campaign travel schedule but would lean heavily on digital communications that bypass the traditional news media. The emerging contest will be complicated by the fact that his opponent is under criminal indictment by a local Democratic prosecutor in New York on charges of covering up hush money paid to a p*rn star and is being investigated by Mr. Biden’s own Justice Department for instigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and illegally refusing to turn over classified documents.

Although Mr. Biden has remained publicly silent on Mr. Trump’s legal troubles, the former president has tried to blame the incumbent, accusing him of wielding the justice system against him out of partisan animus. No evidence of that has surfaced, but Mr. Biden’s own handling of classified documents is being investigated by a special counsel and his son Hunter Biden is being investigated by another federal prosecutor.

Mr. Biden’s strategists recognize that he starts off the campaign with significant vulnerabilities but are banking on the idea that however ambivalent swing voters may be about him, they are dead set against putting Mr. Trump back in the White House. If they face another Republican, they plan to argue that anyone who wins that party’s nomination will have to adopt the same radical positions as Mr. Trump.

April 25, 2023, 3:00 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 3:00 p.m. ET

Maggie Astor

U.S. presidential campaigns have become two-year marathons.

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The last races of the midterm elections were still up in the air when former President Donald J. Trump announced his third presidential campaign in November — after having to be talked out of doing it even earlier.

In comparison, President Biden’s campaign announcement on Tuesday might seem downright tardy. Doesn’t the man know Election Day is only 560 days away?

Even so, his campaign will still be pretty long by the standards of past United States elections, and extravagantly so by international standards: In parliamentary systems, elections are often measured in months or even weeks. In Japan, candidates have less than a month to campaign.

But in the United States, like Christmas displays and pumpkin ales, the start of the presidential campaign has been creeping earlier for years.

The trend arguably began with George McGovern, the Democratic nominee in 1972, who announced his campaign on Jan. 18, 1971, nearly two years before Election Day and a full year before his main competitors. But the real proof of concept came four years later with Jimmy Carter, who announced his 1976 campaign on Dec. 12, 1974.

Not coincidentally, these were the first elections in which the Democratic nominee was chosen primarily by voters, as opposed to party elites at a convention. Starting early allowed Mr. Carter, then relatively unknown outside Georgia, to capitalize fully on the potential of that new system and introduce himself to voters before any better-known candidates could get in the way.

Fortunately for him — and, perhaps, unfortunately for those who would prefer not to live in a perpetual election season — his gamble worked.

The trouble for the many candidates who would like to replicate Mr. Carter’s success is that it depended on, well, actually starting significantly before his biggest challengers. Today, instead of one candidate getting a head start, lots of candidates jump in early — or, at least, they start talking about jumping in early, and then pundits talk about who is talking about jumping in early, and we all get a two-year campaign cycle with no real benefit to the person who starts it.

But since 1976, the first person to enter a contested primary has almost never won — and later can be better.

The winner of the 1988 election, George Bush, did not announce his campaign for the Republican nomination until October 1987. The Democratic nominee in 2004, John Kerry, entered in September 2003.

And when Mr. Trump announced his 2016 campaign on June 16, 2015, he was later than about three-quarters of his Republican opponents, according to data from the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara. By the time Mr. Biden announced his 2020 candidacy on April 25, 2019, there were some 20 other Democrats in the race.

Still, anyone pre-emptively exhausted by the 2024 campaign can take solace in one thing: It won’t be as long as the 2020 race. That campaign began with then-Representative John Delaney’s announcement on July 28, 2017 — three years, three months and six days before Election Day.

April 25, 2023, 2:53 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 2:53 p.m. ET

Tiffany Hsu

In an anti-Biden ad, Republicans use A.I. to depict a dystopian future.

In response to President Biden’s formal announcement of his re-election bid on Tuesday, the Republican National Committee put out an ad filled with dystopian scenes of war, economic collapse, immigration crises and drug-induced crime — all of them generated by artificial intelligence.

The 30-second video features a small disclaimer in the top-left corner noting that it was “built entirely with A.I. imagery,” while the caption described the content as “an A.I.-generated look into the country’s possible future if Joe Biden is re-elected in 2024.”

Among the scenarios envisioned by the ad, accompanied by fake news reports: China invading and bombing Taiwan; storefronts being boarded up as hundreds of regional banks shutter; and troops closing San Francisco during a surge of crime and fentanyl use.

A.I. experts said they were worried that the ad represented an opening of the floodgates for realistic synthetic content in politics, allowing it to become a dangerous tool in the coming election and exacerbating the information corrosion that has allowed misinformation and conspiracy theories to permeate campaigns in recent years. Tools like DALL-E and Midjourney are easily accessible and increasingly sophisticated, capable of creating images that mimic photos.

The Republican ad most likely used tools that “have significant capacity for deception” and was not properly watermarked to identify it as a product of A.I. for viewers not trained to recognize such content, said Henry Ajder, an expert on manipulated and synthetic media.

Politicians have already been the subject of so-called deepfakes, some more convincing than others. In February, the conservative influencer Jack Posobiec tweeted a video to his more than two million followers that appeared to show Mr. Biden announcing a draft to protect against national security threats from Russia and China — he captioned it a “sneak preview of things to come” but only explained its A.I. origins in accompanying video commentary.

On Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee responded to the Republican ad in a statement, saying that “in incredibly telling fashion, the R.N.C. had to make up images because, quite simply, they can’t argue with President Biden’s results.” But Mr. Ajder warned that if the Biden team responded with a similar ad, “this could get really, really ugly.”

“We are reaching this really critical point, this inflection point where realism meets accessibility meets scale, and that is a ticking time bomb when it comes to things like election processes,” he said. “My fear is that this campaign is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using generative A.I. in campaigning not just by edgy groups or alt-right activists, but by official governments or by official political entities themselves.”

April 25, 2023, 2:45 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 2:45 p.m. ET

Neil Vigdor

Voters have sent only one former president back to the White House.

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Just one former president has succeeded in avenging his defeat in the previous election — something that former President Donald J. Trump will attempt in 2024 against President Biden, if he can win the nomination.

Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, lost in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, a Republican, despite receiving more of the popular vote. But Cleveland prevailed in a rematch in 1892, as the nation headed toward a depression, and became the only American president elected to two nonconsecutive terms.

Several other former presidents have tried and failed.

There was Herbert Hoover, a Republican who was stung by his landslide loss to the Democratic challenger Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 then angled to represent his party in the 1936 election. Republicans instead selected Alfred M. Landon, the governor of Kansas, to be their nominee in a doomed challenge of Roosevelt.

Three former presidents tried to win back their old office by running under the banners of third parties: Martin Van Buren (Free Soil Party) in 1848, Millard Fillmore (Know-Nothing Party) in 1856, and Theodore Roosevelt (Bull Moose Party) in 1912.

While speculation about a potential Biden-Trump rematch has swirled since long before the formal announcements by both candidates, it is far from a foregone conclusion. Other Republicans are already standing in Mr. Trump’s path to the nomination and more are expected to join the race.

April 25, 2023, 2:40 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 2:40 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Biden’s campaign video underscores a digital strategy focused on social media.

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For a second time, President Biden announced his bid for the White House in front of a camera rather than a live crowd — part of a strategy by the 80-year-old incumbent to embrace social media, which is expected to be a key feature of his re-election campaign.

During his time in the White House, Mr. Biden has invited celebrities and influencers to record videos for social platforms like TikTok and Twitter in order to promote a variety of issues, like mental health, vaccines and combating hate crimes.

“That’s where a lot of eyeballs are, so it’s a way to get to people,” Ronald Klain, Mr. Biden’s former chief of staff, said in an interview. “These videos are also a way to communicate directly with people.”

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The Biden administration is not the first to embrace social media. Former President Barack Obama harnessed Facebook and Instagram to provide a glimpse inside the White House. During the Trump administration, Dan Scavino’s oversight of Mr. Trump’s social media accounts raised his profile.

But Tuesday’s announcement was a sign of how a social strategy that stretches back four years has evolved, according to Kevin Munoz, a spokesman for the Biden campaign.

The 2020 campaign “built one of the largest content shops in the history of politics,” he said. But the 2024 video was not actually just one video: The announcement was “a mobile-optimized vertical video, produced in different formats for different platforms, aimed at reaching as many people as possible,” he said.

Republicans also turned to video for political messaging on Tuesday. The Republican National Committee released a clip produced with the help of artificial intelligence that conjured images of a dystopian future Republicans foresee if Mr. Biden were to win re-election.

April 25, 2023, 2:30 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 2:30 p.m. ET

Neil Vigdor

Biden. Reagan. Trump. Here are the oldest presidents in American history.

President Biden’s entry into the 2024 election has returned attention to his age, which is likely to be a recurring theme of the campaign.

It is his fourth run for the nation’s top office in a national political career that began with a successful Senate race in 1972. Mr. Biden’s age — he turned 80 last year — has frequently surfaced as a target for his political opponents, including his predecessor, former President Donald J. Trump. As Mr. Trump, 76, seeks a comeback, some public opinion polls have likewise suggested voters view him as too old for the job.

So who are the oldest U.S. presidents?

Joseph R. Biden Jr.

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For nearly two-and-a-half centuries, no octogenarian had been president, but that changed on Nov. 20 when Mr. Biden turned 80. At the time of his inauguration in January 2021, Mr. Biden was 78, making him older than Ronald Reagan was when he left office.

Mr. Biden spent eight years as vice president under Barack Obama, leaving that office at age 74, making him the second-oldest person to hold that job, after Alben W. Barkley, who was vice president under Harry S. Truman.

For 36 years, Mr. Biden represented Delaware in the Senate, a tenure longer than eight current members of Congress have been alive.

Mr. Biden has suggested that his age brings a certain level of maturity and institutional knowledge to the office, telling “The View” in 2019 before his election as president that it was legitimate for people to ask about the topic. “Hopefully, I can demonstrate not only with age has come wisdom and experience that can make things a lot better,” he said.

Ronald Reagan

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Ronald Reagan completed his second term in 1989 just shy of his 78th birthday, setting a new benchmark for the presidency.

With his landslide election in 1980, Reagan, a onetime actor and former California governor, became the oldest person to assume the presidency, doing so at 69.

His age was an issue during his 1984 re-election campaign, especially after his first debate against Walter Mondale, the Democratic challenger and former vice president. Reagan’s halting responses in that debate spawned questions about his age and fitness for office.

But when he was confronted with that line of inquiry in the next debate, Reagan was ready with a memorable comeback.

“I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience and Mondale, who lost handily that November.

Donald J. Trump

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Mr. Trump supplanted Reagan in 2017 as the oldest person to assume the presidency, doing so at 70.

While there is no requirement for presidents to publicly release their medical records, many have done so over the years as a reassurance that they are up to the rigors of the job. But Mr. Trump and his doctors often deviated from those norms, presenting partial information about the president’s health, including when he was sicker with Covid-19 in October 2020 than publicly acknowledged at the time.

Just after the November midterm elections last year, Mr. Trump entered the 2024 presidential race, seeking to avenge his loss to Mr. Biden in 2020 and become only the second president elected to nonconsecutive terms. He will turn 78 in 2024.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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Dwight D. Eisenhower was 70 in 1961 when he completed his two terms as president.

A five-star Army general and World War II hero who had graduated from West Point, Eisenhower made fitness a focus of his administration and created a youth fitness program.

But his own health started to deteriorate during his presidency, including a 1955 heart attack that foreshadowed chronic coronary ailments that plagued Eisenhower for the rest of his life.

Eisenhower died at age 78 in 1969 after a yearslong bout with coronary heart disease that had resulted in seven heart attacks.

Andrew Jackson

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Andrew Jackson was just shy of his 70th birthday when he finished his second term in 1837.

The nation’s seventh president, who is often referred to as Old Hickory, was beleaguered by a series of ailments throughout his life that included smallpox, malaria, dysentery, rheumatism and dropsy. After being shot during a duel, he lived with a physical disability most of his adult life.

The legacy of Jackson, a former major general who won the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and whose portrait hung in the Oval Office when Mr. Trump was president, is a complicated one.

While his populist principles and military record brought him acclaim, his treatment of Native Americans and role in expanding the frontier have not aged well, causing some groups to distance themselves from Jackson.

He died from kidney and heart failure in 1845 at age 78, eight years after leaving the White House.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (7)

April 25, 2023, 2:17 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 2:17 p.m. ET

Katie Glueck

During the midterms, Democrats running in tough races often kept their distance from Biden. On Tuesday, Representative Elissa Slotkin — who represents a competitive district and is running for Senate in Michigan — was quick to tweet her support. “Mr. President,” she wrote, “Michigan is ready to help finish the job.”

Mr. President, Michigan is ready to help finish the job. https://t.co/qf0gh3K8P4

— Elissa Slotkin (@ElissaSlotkin) April 25, 2023

April 25, 2023, 2:15 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 2:15 p.m. ET

Maggie Astor

Get ready for another staggeringly expensive election cycle.

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What can $6.5 billion cover?

The entire gross domestic product of Liechtenstein is one option. The production budgets for more than a dozen “Avatar” sequels are another. More than the last 20 years of Super Bowl ads combined.

Or, alternatively, one United States presidential election.

That staggering $6.5 billion figure — the watchdog group OpenSecrets’s tally of the cost of the 2020 race between Donald J. Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., including spending by the candidates themselves and outside groups — made the 2020 presidential campaign by far the most expensive in history. And there is no reason to believe the 2024 campaign will cost much less.

It is too early to talk about dollar estimates for 2024 with any confidence. The numbers will depend on many factors, including how many candidates mount primary campaigns and how many states — and which ones — are competitive in the general election.

But the stakes are not getting any lower. Crucially, neither is the involvement of super PACs, which are not subject to the same fund-raising and spending limits as candidates. The conservative Koch brothers’ donor network, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars supporting Republican candidates and causes in the 2020 election, is planning to get involved in the presidential primaries for the first time.

From presidential to congressional to state-level races, elections across the board have been getting steadily more expensive, even in inflation-adjusted dollars. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which opened the super PAC floodgates, came in 2010, but the biggest wave has come in the past few years.

Total spending on federal races — presidential and congressional — more than doubled from 2016 to 2020 after staying roughly stable for a couple of election cycles. Spending in 2022 set a record for a midterm, according to OpenSecrets. And the 10 most expensive individual Senate races of all time have all happened since 2018.

April 25, 2023, 1:58 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:58 p.m. ET

Michael D. Shear

Where the special counsel investigation into Biden’s handling of classified documents stands.

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WASHINGTON — President Biden begins his campaign for a second term while he remains under investigation by a special counsel appointed to look into the discovery of classified documents at the president’s home and former office.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed Robert K. Hur as special counsel in January after the documents were found by Biden aides at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, a think tank in Washington, and at the family home in Wilmington, Del.

Since then, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has conducted multiple searches at the University of Delaware, which houses Mr. Biden’s Senate papers. And lawmakers, including some Democrats, have complained that the Justice Department should be sharing the results of the searches with them.

Mr. Hur has not indicated how long the investigation into Mr. Biden’s handling of the documents will take, or how many people have been interviewed. But it is happening at the same time as Jack Smith, another special counsel, is investigating the mishandling of classified documents by former President Donald J. Trump.

The two cases are very different. Mr. Biden and his lawyers have pledged to cooperate fully with investigators since the documents were first discovered, calling their presence at Mr. Biden’s home and office an innocent mistake. Mr. Trump, by contrast, has fought the inquiry into his handling of documents, and has claimed he has the right to have them.

But for Mr. Biden, the existence of the investigation is likely to remain a political headache — at least — as he campaigns for a second term over the course of the next 19 months until Election Day.

April 25, 2023, 1:49 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:49 p.m. ET

Katie Glueck

5 things to know about Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez.

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President Biden on Tuesday named Julie Chavez Rodriguez as the campaign manager for his re-election effort, elevating a senior adviser and the highest-ranking Latina in the White House to one of the most intense and scrutinized jobs in American politics.

Ms. Chavez Rodriguez, 45, a veteran of the Obama administration and of Vice President Kamala Harris’s political orbit, also worked on Mr. Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign before becoming director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. She is the granddaughter of Cesar Chávez, the iconic labor leader.

Here are five things to know about the selection of Ms. Chavez Rodriguez:

She has navigated Bidenworld …

Mr. Biden has a small circle of close aides, some of whom have known him for years. Breaking into that world can be a challenge, and many Democrats expect that key advisers at the White House will oversee the operation.

But several Democrats said that Ms. Chavez Rodriguez had impressed Mr. Biden, 80, and histop advisers, adding that she was often seen as a trustworthy team player with strong political relationships.

She “didn’t start off as a Biden person, but she’s always been an honest broker,” said Cristóbal Alex, who worked on the 2020 Biden campaign and in the White House. In both places, he said, some came to embrace the slogan “in Julie we trust.”

She has not managed a campaign before, a departure from the résumés of some past presidential campaign managers who had run congressional races or were steeped in party committee work.

But she was a deputy campaign manager on the 2020 Biden campaign. At the White House, she dealt regularly with governors, mayors and other state and local leaders and led emergency response coordination efforts.

“The ability to multitask, the ability to move on a dime, to be able to step back and sort of take in the complexity and then manage through that complexity — I can’t imagine a more challenging job than the one she’s had,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, a New Jersey Democrat and the chair of the National Governors Association. “I’m not making light of what it’s like to run a presidential campaign for a second. It’s a big job. But she’s had a big job.”

… and Harris’s orbit.

She is also closely connected to Ms. Harris, who may draw particular attention from voters because of Mr. Biden’s age.

Ms. Chavez Rodriguez, a Californian, served as Ms. Harris’s state director when she was a California senator, and on her presidential campaign.

“Her deep relationships with Biden’s core team and a deep relationship with the vice president’s office, I think, makes for the ideal candidate,” said Juan Rodriguez, a strategist who worked with her (no relation, he said) under Ms. Harris.

A woman of color is now the face of Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign.

During the last presidential campaign, Mr. Biden at times faced criticism over the whiteness of his inner circle.

As he moves now to energize core elements of the multiracial coalition that delivered him the presidency, some Democrats said Ms. Chavez Rodriguez offered vital representation at the highest levels of American politics.

“People in the Hispanic community are feeling that,” said Cecilia Muñoz, who directed the Domestic Policy Council during the Obama administration, the first Hispanic person to hold that job.

She got an early start in political activism.

Ms. Chavez Rodriguez, who was arrested at age 9 during a protest, has seen her family and professional lives overlap.

Valerie B. Jarrett, who served as a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, recalled that Ms. Chavez Rodriguez worked at the dedication of a national monument to her grandfather, but was reluctant to join a family photo, citing professional obligations. (Dolores Huerta, who worked closely with Mr. Chávez, insisted she join, Ms. Jarrett said.)

The moment demonstrated an “egoless quality, which is, let’s say, unusual oftentimes in high levels,” Ms. Jarrett said.

Whether that family legacy is meaningful to voters is another matter, said Matthew J. Garcia, a Dartmouth professor who has written about Mr. Chávez, noting that the United Farm Workers, the union he co-founded, has lost clout.

“It may work with baby boomers, but the newer generation have different ideas about the U.F.W., if they have any ideas at all,” he said.

Mr. Biden, however, placed a bust of Mr. Chávez in the Oval Office.

She is walking into a difficult job.

While Mr. Biden, as the incumbent, has many advantages, he also has clear liabilities. And in a deeply polarized country, early surveys show a competitive general election race.

Against that backdrop, Ms. Chavez Rodriguez must quickly help build a huge operation and balance Mr. Biden’s governing responsibilities with campaigning, while adjusting to leading a campaign for the first time.

“The traditional résumé of a campaign manager for a candidate for president of the United States is usually to be white and to be male,” Ms. Muñoz said. “If you’re a woman of color, you, almost by definition, have to come up through a nontraditional route. But I’ll tell you what — the president knows what she can do.”

April 25, 2023, 1:34 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:34 p.m. ET

Ruth Igielnik and Andrew Fischer

Democrats are happy with Biden, but less than half want him to run again.

Polls on average show fewer than half of Democrats — around 43 percent — want Biden to run for a second term. Still, Democrats generally are happy with the job he’s doing as president, with about three-quarters approving of his job performance.

Dems Lukewarm on Biden Running Again

Most Democrats don’t want the president to be the party’s nominee in 2024.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (13)

April 25, 2023, 1:28 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:28 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

What is striking is that Biden’s speech sounded so much like the union addresses he made during his 2020 campaign. His message about labor and the middle class, then and now, is so similar, just with a fresh “Finish the job” tagline.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (14)

April 25, 2023, 1:27 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:27 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Biden is shaking hands with union leaders as he exits the ballroom here while the crowd gives him another round of thunderous applause. Some are breaking out in “four more years” chants. The speech seemed largely designed for his labor-friendly crowd. Biden did not make new announcements of forthcoming legislation, likely because the White House is well aware that with Republicans in control of the House, it will be difficult to pass sprawling packages. Instead, he focused on the benefits of the infrastructure and social spending bills he has already passed, something we can expect to see him do for the rest of his campaign.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (15)

April 25, 2023, 1:26 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:26 p.m. ET

Reid Epstein

Biden, in closing his speech, tethered Trump to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a wide swath of the Republican Party. “The speaker, the former president, the MAGA extremists, they’re cut from a different cloth,” Biden said. “The threat that MAGA Republicans pose is to take us to a place we’ve never been.”

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (16)

April 25, 2023, 1:28 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:28 p.m. ET

Reid Epstein

Of course, given where the country went on Jan. 6, 2021, suggesting Trump’s followers would go to an even more extreme place is quite the threat Biden is articulating.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (17)

April 25, 2023, 1:23 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:23 p.m. ET

Maggie Haberman

“Let’s finish the job,” Biden says, a theme we will hear a lot of in the coming months.

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2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (18)

April 25, 2023, 1:23 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:23 p.m. ET

Peter Baker

Biden repeated a common boast that he reduced the deficit by $1.7 trillion — but that’s misleading. Spending went up sharply during the covid pandemic, with one-time spending supported in many cases by Democrats and Republicans. Now that the pandemic has waned, so has the one-time spending. But the deficit is still far larger than it was before the pandemic — $1.38 trillion in the 2022 fiscal year compared with $984.4 billion in the 2019 fiscal year.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (19)

April 25, 2023, 1:21 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:21 p.m. ET

Maggie Haberman

Biden is now invoking Trump’s name to rap Republicans over the debt ceiling negotiations.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (20)

April 25, 2023, 1:22 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:22 p.m. ET

Maggie Haberman

An “even Donald Trump said...”

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (21)

April 25, 2023, 1:20 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:20 p.m. ET

Maggie Haberman

One thing that is striking listening to Biden, compared to Trump’s recent speeches: Trump’s are far less about day to day life, at least not beyond the cultural issues animating his base and his efforts to avoid getting entangled in defending Ukraine.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (22)

April 25, 2023, 1:20 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:20 p.m. ET

Reid Epstein

Yes, Maggie, he is doing the full Scranton Joe performance today.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (23)

April 25, 2023, 1:21 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:21 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

And he included an image of his childhood home in Scranton in his kickoff video, Reid! Scranton is never far from Biden’s heart or his messaging.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (24)

April 25, 2023, 1:20 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:20 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

This part of Biden’s speech is a reminder that the president does not want to cede economic populism to Trump.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (25)

April 25, 2023, 1:16 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:16 p.m. ET

Maggie Haberman

This is not an official campaign event or a kickoff. But it is a speech largely about bread-and-butter issues that will define the presidential race for large numbers of voters.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (26)

April 25, 2023, 1:09 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:09 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Nearly every person in the crowd just raised their hand when Biden asked how many people here know someone with diabetes. The White House has long viewed efforts to lower insulin prices as a way to appeal to voters across demographic groups.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (27)

April 25, 2023, 1:08 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:08 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

Biden has twice accidentally started to say “hell” before cutting himself off to say “heck” instead during this speech.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (28)

April 25, 2023, 1:07 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:07 p.m. ET

Peter Baker

To Reid and Shane’s point, the crowd doesn’t bother with the pretense that this is somehow just an “official” speech and not a campaign one.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (29)

April 25, 2023, 1:10 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:10 p.m. ET

Peter Baker

Which, to be fair, has been true of every incumbent president running for re-election. The blurring of official and campaign events at this stage of an administration becomes pretty common. Trump went further than others by holding his nominating convention speech on the White House lawn and issuing pardons and swearing in new citizens during the convention.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (30)

April 25, 2023, 1:06 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:06 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

Biden paused briefly to take in the cheers of “Four more years! Four more years!” from the union workers in the audience.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (31)

April 25, 2023, 1:05 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:05 p.m. ET

Reid Epstein

“It’s time to finish the job,” Biden says, echoing the slogan from his campaign video, prompting a chant of “four more years.” Expect to hear a lot more of that at Biden campaign stops.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (32)

April 25, 2023, 1:05 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:05 p.m. ET

Peter Baker

“You don’t need a college degree,” says Biden, the husband of a college professor, of new jobs to be created.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (33)

April 25, 2023, 1:04 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:04 p.m. ET

Reid Epstein

It’s interesting to see how Biden addresses a friendly labor audience about his record — on the pandemic, infrastructure, economy and climate — compared with the framing of his launch video. Here, in an ostensibly official event, he is speaking and bragging about his record. The formal campaign launch was a much more high-level argument about the threats posed by Republicans if they regain the White House.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (34)

April 25, 2023, 1:04 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:04 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

“As we rebuild America, we’re going to continue to buy in America,” Biden says in a populist appeal to blue-collar workers. This is a major theme of his Inflation Reduction Act, which includes tax credits to entice Americans to buy electric vehicles. But the effort to bolster domestic manufacturing has angered some key U.S. allies, including Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea, who is in town this week for a state dinner with Biden.

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2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (35)

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (36)

April 25, 2023, 1:02 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:02 p.m. ET

Peter Baker

Just a heads up for the audience — nothing in this speech will be a joke. In case that was unclear.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (37)

April 25, 2023, 1:03 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 1:03 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

That line about no one knowing what supply chain issues meant drew laughs from this labor-friendly crowd. A joke specifically for this audience, Peter.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (38)

April 25, 2023, 12:55 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 12:55 p.m. ET

Peter Baker

So far, they’re all Biden favorites — this is a potpourri of Bidenisms.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (39)

April 25, 2023, 12:55 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 12:55 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

And there’s another Bidenism, Shane. “A job is about a lot more than a paycheck,” Biden says, recalling a lesson from his father. “It’s about your dignity.”

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (40)

April 25, 2023, 12:53 p.m. ET

April 25, 2023, 12:53 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

Zolan, that Wall Street line has been one of his favorites since the start of his 2019 campaign, and it still gets applause.

2024 Presidential Race: ‘It’s Time to Finish the Job,’ Biden Tells Union Workers as He Starts ’24 Race (Published 2023) (2024)
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