White House Flips Into Clean-Up Mode Immediately After Biden Declares Re-Election Bid
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on April 25, 2023 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Hours after President Joe Biden formally announced his re-election campaign, the White House scrambled to correct the record on how long he plans to stay in office.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre created an air of uncertainty on Tuesday when she answered a reporter’s question about whether Biden plans to serve the entirety of a second term if he is re-elected in 2024.

“I’m just not gonna get ahead of the president. That’s something for him to decide,” Jean-Pierre responded.

That answer began to generate buzz as there have already been some concerns, even among Democrats, about Biden’s age and fitness to serve a full eight years in office. Already the oldest person to be president at 80, Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term.

Less than an hour later, Jean-Pierre sought to clean the air in a clarifying tweet that seemed to pin her initial statement on the Hatch Act, which prohibits most federal employees from using their jobs to campaign for or against political candidates.

“As you know, we take following the law seriously,” Jean-Pierre said. “So I wanted to be sure that I didn’t go into 2024 more than is appropriate under the law. But I can confirm that if re-elected, [Biden] would serve all 8 years.”

Multiple reporters reacted to the tweet, calling it a “clean up” job and the like.

“Clarifying a moment that caught reporters by surprise in today’s daily briefing…,” tweeted CBS News senior White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe.

Earlier in the day, Biden made his re-election campaign official with the release of a video showing that he is sticking with Vice President Kamala Harris as his running mate.

“Every generation has a moment where they have had to stand up for democracy. To stand up for their fundamental freedoms. I believe this is ours,” Biden said in a tweet. “That’s why I’m running for reelection as President of the United States. Join us. Let’s finish the job.”

A mere 26% of Americans and 47% of Democrats want Biden to run again, according to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. The same poll found 78% of Democrats say they approve of Biden’s job performance, and 81% said they would at least probably support Biden if he becomes the nominee in the general election.

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump is seeking re-election and is generally leading GOP primary polls by wide margins.

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