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Biden’s official entry to 2024 race shapes House and Senate fight

Five Senate seats and multiple House districts in play in states Biden won by less than 3 points in 2020

President Joe Biden speaks with the media after the Council of Chief State School Officers' 2023 Teachers of the Year event in the White House Rose Garden on Monday.
President Joe Biden speaks with the media after the Council of Chief State School Officers' 2023 Teachers of the Year event in the White House Rose Garden on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Declaring that the “battle for the soul of America” he launched four years ago is ongoing, President Joe Biden said Tuesday he will seek reelection because “it is not time to be complacent.”

“Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they’ve had to defend democracy, stand up for our personal freedoms, and stand up for our right to vote and our civil rights,” Biden said in a three-minute video announcement. “This is ours. Let’s finish the job.” 

The video used images of the Jan. 6., 2021, attack on the Capitol and of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., as Biden repeated themes he has stressed in official appearances in recent months, referring to Republicans as “MAGA extremists” who are lining up to cut Social Security to provide tax cuts for “the very wealthy.”

Positioning himself as someone who would heal a divided country worked for Biden in 2020, when he ran as the Democratic choice against President Donald Trump. That election followed the 2018 midterms, in which Democrats swept into control of the House. Next year, however, Biden could face Trump again, this time as the incumbent, after Republicans took back the House in 2022.

Ahead of Biden’s announcement, an NBC News poll found that just 28 percent of registered voters surveyed wanted Biden to run again, with 35 percent of respondents in the same survey saying they want Trump, who has already declared, to campaign again.

Biden’s formal entry into the 2024 campaign clarifies the contours of down-ballot races, with Democratic House and Senate candidates knowing they will be running alongside the current president and his record. The only challengers Biden appears to be facing for the Democratic nomination at this point are author Marianne Williamson, who ran in 2020, and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

In states that either Biden or Trump won by less than 3 points in 2020, there are at least 11 House seats held by Democrats in play, according to race ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. There will likely be more, with congressional maps in North Carolina remaining unsettled.

That’s in addition to key Senate races in what are also presidential battlegrounds, including Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Biden’s campaign announced a slate of national co-chairs that include Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois as well as Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Veronica Escobar of Texas. 

The announcement comes ahead of a previously scheduled speech to the legislative conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions. That event will give the president another opportunity to highlight his legislative accomplishments, including the bipartisan infrastructure law.

A White House official said that speech will focus on manufacturing jobs created, which the administration says total nearly 800,000, as well as the private-sector investments in manufacturing — including many union jobs.

Vice President Kamala Harris will headline a rally for abortion rights, another theme likely to be central to the campaign, on Tuesday night at Howard University.

The bulk of the president’s week will be consumed by the state visit of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, which will give Biden plenty of opportunities to talk about his foreign policy agenda and draw contrasts with Trump.

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