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Democrats have no Biden backup plan for 2024, despite age concerns

Democrats have no Biden backup plan for 2024, despite age concerns

Baku, December 1, AZERTAC

The Democratic Party has no Plan B if President Joe Biden decided for any reason to halt his 2024 re-election campaign, and a sudden need to replace him as its standard-bearer would spark a messy intraparty battle, according to Reuters.

Despite weak poll numbers and questions, including from some Democrats, about his age, Biden has stuck to his plan to seek a second term after clearing the field of serious Democratic primary challengers when he announced in April that he was running again.

Even if more Democratic candidates were to jump in now, the path forward would be unclear as deadlines to get on the primary ballot in critical states such as Nevada, South Carolina and Georgia have already passed.

Biden loyalists, citing his record in office, argue that the party does not need a backup plan to defeat probable Republican nominee Donald Trump, who Biden beat in the 2020 election.

Among the possible scenarios if the president, 81, did drop out: Democrats could pick another nominee next August at their convention, or even later, in line with party rules.

Reuters spoke to multiple current and former officials who, while making clear they want Biden to succeed, acknowledge the party could face upheaval should the oldest president in U.S. history encounter a health issue or step aside for other reasons during the White House contest.

Biden's running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris, who has her own popularity problems, would not automatically replace him as the top candidate if he stepped aside; she would benefit from their joint campaign infrastructure if she ran for president in his absence, but other Democrats would likely swoop in to the race as well.

"There is no Plan B. If he were ... suddenly not to run, everyone you know would run. The VP scares no one," a senior Democrat told Reuters.

If Biden were to drop out while the Democratic primaries were ongoing, other candidates could join the race, depending on state filing requirements.

It normally takes months to set up a presidential campaign and raise the money to run, and deadlines to get on the ballot in consequential states including California, Illinois and Michigan are approaching in the coming weeks.

Democratic officials are united behind the president, despite some trepidation, they say; otherwise big name competitors already would have entered the race.

"Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee and he will beat whichever MAGA extremist the Republicans put forward,” Biden campaign spokesperson Daniel Wessel said, referring to former President Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

Trump, 77, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, also faces concerns about his age and a litany of charges including mishandling of classified documents and interfering in the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden. He denies wrongdoing.

David Axelrod, a top White House adviser during Barack Obama's presidency, said Biden needed to decide whether it was smart to run again, after November polling showed him lagging in key swing states against Trump.

"If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it's in HIS best interest or the country's?" Axelrod wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

If he dropped out after the last primaries in June 2024, delegates would be free to vote for another candidate in Chicago.

Any departure before the convention would almost certainly lead to jockeying among a broad group of presidential hopefuls, including Harris and California Governor Gavin Newsom, to convince more than 4,000 Democratic delegates to give them the job.

It would augur a return to a time in which convention delegates truly chose, not just rubber-stamped, their nominee.

"If he drops out before the convention, we will have an old-fashioned convention where the delegates essentially get to make up their mind (on whom to vote for) regardless of who they were elected to represent," said Elaine Kamarck, an elections expert, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and a member of the Democratic National Committee.

That could spark intraparty warfare, leaving Democrats to mirror Republicans in a battle in which candidates spend time and money fighting each other.

Things get more complicated if for any reason Biden dropped out after the convention. Kamarck, the author of the book "Primary Politics," said the 435 members of the DNC would then meet in a special session to select a nominee.

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