White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was forced to clarify her remarks after suggesting that President Joe Biden would not serve the four years of a second term.
At the White House press conference on Tuesday, reporters peppered Jean-Pierre with numerous questions about Biden’s re-election campaign. One of those questions sought an answer to whether Biden plans to serve a full second term.
“I’m just not going to get ahead of the president. That’s something for him to decide,” Jean-Pierre replied. “I just won’t move forward.”
u201c”Does the president plan to serve the eight years?”nnPress Sec.: “That’s for him to decide”nnu201d
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThompson) 1682449679
The ambiguity of Jean-Pierre’s response led to speculation that Biden is considering not serving a second term if he wins re-election.
But after the briefing, Jean-Pierre clarified that Biden will serve a full second term if re-elected. Jean-Pierre explained that he did not give a clearer answer at the briefing to avoid violating the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities.
“As you know, we take compliance with the law seriously. So I wanted to make sure I didn’t go into 2024 more than the law allows. But I can confirm that if I were re-elected, @POTUS would be turning 8,” he said on Twitter.
u201cAs you know, we take compliance with the law seriously. So I wanted to make sure I didn’t go into 2024 more than the law allowed. But I can confirm that, if re-elected, @POTUS would serve all 8 years.u201d
– Karine Jean-Pierre (@Karine Jean-Pierre) 1682450340
The initial response played into concerns about Biden’s age and cognitive abilities. Already the oldest president in the history of the United States, Biden would be 82 years old in his second inauguration and 86 years old at the end of the mandate.
Critics who are skeptical of Biden’s fitness for the presidency have theorized that Democrats want Biden to run again to ensure Democrats retain control of the White House even if Biden steps down to his health or dies in office.
Even one Democratic strategist recently suggested that it is imperative that Democrats reconsider whether Vice President Kamala Harris should be Biden’s running mate in 2024 precisely because the combination of Biden’s age and Harris’ unpopularity may persuade moderate voters to support a Biden-Harris ticket.
Replacing her with a more popular candidate would thus alleviate concerns about the “succession” problem if Biden is for some reason unable to serve a full second term.
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