President Biden will spend the next 11 months balancing the job of governing with his reelection bid, traveling the country as he seeks to convince voters he deserves a second term.
The president has already signaled what key issues will be consistent parts of his pitch to voters, and he has in many ways already set his sights on former President Trump, the GOP primary front-runner, as his likely opponent next November.
Here are five key issues critical to Biden’s reelection bid.
People rally in support of abortion rights in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Protecting abortion rights has been a driving force behind Democrats’ election wins since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, and the Biden campaign will look to replicate that success in 2024.
The Biden campaign has repeatedly highlighted Trump’s declaration that he killed Roe v. Wade with his appointment of conservative justices, as well as the support from candidates including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley for restrictive abortion bans.
Biden himself has highlighted the abortion issue in speeches to donors, and he has rolled out executive actions intended to protect abortion access.
Democratic wins in the Kentucky gubernatorial election, Virginia legislative elections and ballot referendums in Kansas and Ohio underscore how the issue resonates in purple and even red states.
“We agree with Donald Trump on one thing: No one has done more to rip away women’s freedoms than he has,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement.
“As the whole country saw last week, voters strongly reject that kind of extremism, and they’ll do it again next November.”
If abortion is Democrats’ biggest driver of turnout, the economy is what may swing the election for independent voters.
Biden and his team have for months argued the president’s economic plan has produced results. They have cited the unemployment rate dropping below 4 percent after it spiked during the pandemic. They have pointed to the economy growing faster than anticipated and defying experts’ predictions of a looming recession.
The stock market hit record highs in December, and Biden aides took a victory lap after Trump in 2020 claimed a Biden victory would lead to a market crash.
Officials have boasted that inflation has steadily declined over the past year. Data released Dec. 12 showed the annual inflation rate had fallen from 9.1 percent in June 2022 to 3.1 percent as of November 2023.
Biden and his team have acknowledged there is more work to do, but they feel good about the direction of the economy. The question is whether voters will agree.
A CNN poll released in early December found just 33 percent of Americans approved of Biden’s handling of the economy.
Trump’s threat to democracy
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Reno, Nev. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Biden’s reason for running in 2020 was his belief that then-President Trump posed a grave threat to American democracy, and the same concern is once again at the core of his reelection campaign.
At recent fundraisers, Biden has called Trump an “election denier in chief” who is “determined to destroy American democracy.”
“American democracy — I give you my word as a Biden — I believe, is at stake,” Biden said during a recent trip to Massachusetts, where he also suggested he may not have run again if Trump weren’t also running.
The Biden campaign has highlighted Trump’s calls to prosecute his opponents, his attacks on the media and his comments that he would be a dictator on day one of a second term. The campaign has compared Trump’s rhetoric to that of Adolf Hitler, a particularly stark warning.
The risk, strategists warn, is that voters either become numb to Trump’s rhetoric or are willing to overlook it.
“I think the Biden campaign planned on running an entire campaign against Trump and his indictments and calling him an authoritarian, and I don’t think either of those resonate with the electorate,” one Trump-aligned operative said.
One of Biden’s core arguments will focus plainly on his ability to do the job and get results, particularly at such a polarizing time.
Biden has racked up a healthy list of legislative accomplishments, chief among them the Inflation Reduction Act, a law passed with Democratic votes that the president frequently touts as an economic driver to lowering prescription drug costs and energy bills for families. The legislation also makes investments in clean energy industries.
The president also has a series of bipartisan achievements from his first two years in the White House that will likely be central to his argument that he was able to work across the aisle in a way his predecessor could not.
Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which invests billions of dollars in domestic semiconductor manufacturing to boost the economy and make the U.S. less reliant on foreign supply chains.
And the White House has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for projects across the country funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Biden signed in 2021.
US leadership on global stage
President Biden welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as he arrives at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, December 21, 2022.
Biden used his first address to a global audience in 2021 to declare, “America is back.”
While foreign policy typically does not play an outsized role in domestic elections, Biden and his team are likely to lean into the idea that he provides steady, reliable leadership on the world stage in a way Trump does not.
Biden managed to rally a coalition of support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, and he has sought to walk a careful line in backing Israel in its fight against Hamas while warning against “indiscriminate bombings.”
The Israel conflict in particular, however, could pose problems for Biden the longer it drags on, especially given divisions among Democrats on the issue. A New York Times/Siena College poll published Dec. 19 found 33 percent of registered voters approve of Biden’s handling of the conflict, and more voters trusted Trump to do a better job on the issue.
Biden struggled to win new support from Congress for Ukraine in December, but he and his team believe their positions will contrast favorably with those of Trump in the eyes of voters.
Where former Trump advisers warn he would try to withdraw from NATO, Biden has sought to strengthen the alliance in the face of Russian aggression. Biden has emphasized the domestic and international reasons to support Ukraine in its war against Russia, while Trump has indicated he would pull back American support. And Trump has repeatedly spoken fondly of authoritarian leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary.
Biden frequently retells the same anecdote of telling a group of allies after he took office, “America is back,” with one leader responding, “For how long?” It is a story likely to be repeated on the trail as Biden warns that the U.S. and its allies can’t afford four more years of Trump.