Biden eyes 2024 re-election with speech addressed to US’ ‘soul’

By Beatriz Pascual Macias

Washington, Feb 8 (EFE).- United States President Joe Biden prepared Tuesday the ground for his re-election in 2024 with a speech in which he marked differences with Republicans, endured boos and tried to stay above, convinced that his mission is to restore “the soul” of the country.

“Because the soul of our nation is strong, because the backbone of this nation is strong, because the people of this nation are strong, because the State of the Union is strong. As I stand here tonight, I have never felt so optimistic about the future of America,” Biden said in his address to Congress.

Biden’s second State of the Union address comes at a tipping point: midway through his term and just weeks before he officially announces whether he will run for re-election in 2024, even though he has already said he has intention to do it.

His 72-minute speech was focused on national politics and the objective was to talk about the economy and other issues that concern the millions of Americans watching at home.

Last year Biden began his speech by talking about the invasion that Russian President Vladimir Putin had just launched on Ukraine. This time he wasn’t mentioned until an hour into the speech.

“Let’s finish the job!” Biden said, adding that “we’re just getting started!”

The president urged Congress to pass some of the policies he came to office with, such as lowering insulin prices, that he hasn’t yet gotten through.

Those phrases and the vigor with which Biden expressed himself also suggested he is not going to abandon the mission entrusted to him by the Americans and that he is not going anywhere, Michael Cornfield, professor of Politics at the George Washington University, told EFE.

For Cornfield, there is now little doubt Biden wants to run for re-election in 2024, to which he has also announced that former Republican president Donald Trump (2017-2021) would run, although he will first have to be nominated as a candidate by his party.

Biden used the speech to appeal to a group that could be key to his re-election: the working class that for years was a central part of the Democratic base, but in some cases came to feel closer to Donald Trump.

The president used the term “forgotten” – which Trump used to use – to refer to Americans who have lost their jobs in recent decades as a result of globalization and promised that he will promote “made in the USA” products.

When the president began to reproach conservatives for his proposals to end some social programs, such as the Medicare health system for people over 65, the tension within the chamber rose and some began to call him a liar.

It’s not unusual for lawmakers from the president’s anti-party to yell from their seats in these speeches, but what is rare is for the president to respond.

“I’m having a good time with this conversation,” Biden responded, deviating from the speech he had prepared.

As some Republicans yelled, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Washington’s top conservative, tried to silence them to no avail.

Despite these bitter exchanges, which showed the division of the country, Biden tried to portray himself as a leader capable of reaching agreements with Republicans and restoring decency in American politics, the idea that has already focused his campaign for the 2020 elections.

As then, Biden assumed the mission of giving comfort and transmitting security to a nation in economic uncertainty, fear of a recession, and which views the war in Ukraine and the growing tensions with China with concern.

“I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of America. We just have to remember who we are,” he said.

Biden’s approval ratings are currently low with only 43 percent support, according to the Five Thirty Eight portal polling average, which also shows that less than 50 percent of Democrats want him to be the party’s nominee for the 2024 election. EFE

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