President Joe Biden often passes on Oval Office gatherings with press, with his aides opting instead to hold such events in the fake White House set next door at the Old Executive Office Building.
According to a report from Politico, the reason for that is simple: the Oval Office is not set up for the installation of a permanent teleprompter.
The report, published Thursday, outlined some of the issues that might arise if the 2024 presidential election became a rematch between President Biden and former President Donald Trump — and one such issue was the concern that Biden might not be able to handle the stress of another campaign.
One concern was the president’s physical condition: as the report noted, “a bone he broke in his foot while playing with his dog in late November 2020 still occasionally bothers Biden, resulting in a slower and shorter gait.”
But the complications that come with Biden’s propensity to go off-script when he doesn’t have a teleprompter in front of him may also prove to be problematic, especially in a campaign that is likely to include more public events as people return to pre-pandemic activities.
As the report noted, Biden’s aides have already shifted some events — particularly when reporters are present — to avoid unscripted moments.
“The White House has largely abandoned using the Oval Office for press events in part because it can’t be permanently equipped with a teleprompter; Biden aides prefer the fake White House stage built in the Old Executive Office Building next door for events, sacrificing some of the power of the historic backdrop in favor of an otherwise sterile room that was outfitted with an easily read teleprompter screen,” the report reads.
The fake White House set has often been a target for ridicule from a number of Biden’s critics:
Why did the White House build a literal game show set complete with fake windows for Joe Biden??? So weird. pic.twitter.com/9Ud42AbEqQ
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) October 6, 2021
Has there been an explanation for why they built a fake White House set for Biden across the street from the real White House?
The other day there were shipping containers outside the window. Today it’s a winter wonderland.
Just bizarre and phony. pic.twitter.com/LbLIvrlc3Z
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) January 3, 2022
If Biden does run again in 2024 despite those obstacles, the report concludes that Trump is likely to run as well.
“Biden running helps shape his decision. I think it’s an opportunity to avenge a loss and right a wrong, whereas if there was a younger candidate, I don’t know how motivated he’d be,” a former Trump advisor told Politico.
But former Trump campaign official and GOP strategist Bryan Lanza said that the calculus was a bit more complicated — and that the former president was unlikely to mount another presidential campaign unless he was reasonably certain that he could win. And Biden’s poll numbers, which have been solidly in the low 40s for weeks, may encourage Trump to throw his hat back into the ring.
“I always said that he would run if Biden is under 44 or 43 [percent] but if Biden is at 46, 47, he will pass,” Lanza said. “Right now he is at 41 so I have to say yes right now — there has to be a dramatic turning out in Biden numbers for him to pass.”