Democrats set 2024 convention in Chicago; Biden eyes re-election

US President Joe Biden, 80, continues to signal intent to run for re-election, but he has yet to announce a formal bid.

US President Joe Biden speaks at a podium
'I plan on running,' Biden said on Monday in a clear sign that he will seek re-election [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Washington, DC – Chicago will host the 2024 Democratic convention, the party has said as it pushes to retain control of the White House with President Joe Biden.

The announcement on Tuesday sent a strong signal that 80-year-old Biden will seek re-election next year despite concerns about his age.

“Chicago’s convention bid was supported by a wide range of midwestern Democrats who represent the diversity of the party, demonstrating the formidable coalition that will help reelect President Biden and Vice President Harris, and elect Democrats up-and-down the ticket,” the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said in a statement.

The midwestern states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota – all near Chicago, which is in the state of Illinois – were key to Biden’s victory in 2020.

On Monday, Biden indicated explicitly that he intends to seek the presidency again. “I plan on running now, but we’re not prepared to announce it yet,” he told the United States network NBC at a White House Easter egg roll event.

Biden is already the oldest president in American history. If re-elected, he would be 82 at the time of his second inauguration and 86 by the end of that term.

While public opinion polls show that some voters are concerned about Biden’s age, incumbency usually boosts candidates’ standing in US elections, and sitting presidents eligible for re-election rarely face serious primary challenges from within their own party.

Marianne Williamson, a renowned author and 2020 candidate, has announced a primary challenge against Biden promising more progressive policies, but her campaign is largely seen as a long-shot bid.

Earlier this year, the DNC moved its first presidential primary to South Carolina, a Biden stronghold amongst Democratic voters, all but shielding the president from an early upset if he is challenged for the party’s nomination.

Supporters of the move said it would boost diversity within the Democratic Party. South Carolina is more ethnically diverse than Iowa, which is mostly white and which was previously the first primary state.

Only a handful of candidates from either party have officially launched a 2024 presidential campaign, including former President Donald Trump, who is seeking an electoral rematch with Biden.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has yet to announce his bid, is largely seen as Trump’s most serious rival for the Republican nomination. The former president is facing criminal charges in New York as well as various investigations, including into his push to overturn the results of the 2020 elections.

Trump has dismissed the charges and probes as politically motivated attempts to derail his 2024 chances.

For his part, Biden has largely refused to comment on Trump’s legal woes.

On Tuesday, Biden welcomed the choice of Chicago as the host of the 2024 DNC convention.

“Democrats will gather to showcase our historic progress including building an economy from the middle out and bottom up, not from the top down,” the US president said in a statement.

Chicago, which saw nearly 700 homicides in 2022, is a frequent target of criticism by Republicans, who portray crime rates in the mostly Democratic city as the result of the failure of liberal policies.

Last week, Chicago elected progressive local politician Brandon Johnson as mayor against Paul Vallas, a more conservative, tough-on-crime opponent.

“I look forward to working closely with the DNC to facilitate a spectacular convention that showcases Chicago’s diverse culture, our beautiful lakefront, our renowned hospitality sector, and our best asset: our amazing people,” Johnson said in the DNC statement.

Source: Al Jazeera