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Biden has made it official — announcing his bid for a second presidential term

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

President Biden is running for reelection. He made it official this morning in an online video.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: When I ran for president four years ago, I said we're in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are. The question we're facing is whether, in the years ahead, we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer.

MARTÍNEZ: The president has been teasing a run for months now and working to give a clearer picture of the message he'll run on. NPR White House correspondent Scott Detrow is here. So, Scott, tell us more about what we expect Biden to run on.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Yeah, I think a big part of it will be this idea of finish the job we've been hearing from Biden since around the time of the State of the Union. That's how he ends the video that just posted this morning. Biden is making the argument that he is someone who has gotten government to work again. He's particularly focused on the Infrastructure Act and other new laws trying to bring back American manufacturing jobs, particularly computer chips. A lot of this really comes back to the same bet that Biden made in 2020, that in a hyperpoliticized culture war climate, he thinks most voters actually, in the end, just kind of want to see government get things done.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, but here's the thing. Poll after poll shows that Biden has a low approval rating, and some Democrats have told pollsters they don't want him to run for another term. So what's the president's plan to counter that?

DETROW: It's really worth flagging here that his numbers are low among independent voters, too, and that's the very people that that economic message is aimed at. So when you talk to Biden's campaign, two big themes keep coming up. And the first is that they continue to insist that the more these big infrastructure projects are rolled out, the more popular they and Biden will get. And the second is that it's a choice here, not a referendum, and that gets to another major theme of the video and the message we're going to hear a lot over the next year and a half. It's very similar to that soul-of-America framing that was central to Biden's 2020 campaign, and you heard again in that clip Biden is quick to highlight this morning the threats that he sees from what he constantly frames as MAGA Republicans.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BIDEN: Dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books and telling people who they can love, all while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.

DETROW: And the video shows images from January 6, images of Marjorie Taylor Greene and, notably, images of both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis during that part of it. Those are the two highest-profile possible Republican nominees next year. The Biden campaign believes this is a - if it's a choice between Biden and Trump, which is likely, Trumpism is too much of a turnoff for many swing voters. But I'll say this. One other big factor here that we need to address and talk about - and one that's totally out of Biden's control - is his age. He's 80. Many voters are worried about sending someone back to the White House who would be 86 at the end of a second term. That's going to be a big challenge for the campaign to address.

MARTÍNEZ: One other thing, Scott, because it's a year - actually, four years to the day of his announcement that he'd run in 2020. So does that symmetry tell us anything?

DETROW: I think it does. I really think that 2020 primary and the way that so many people were skeptical of Biden's chances looms large in the president and his political team's minds. Look; I'll cop to this. I went back and looked at what I said four years ago today on MORNING EDITION. I sounded pretty skeptical at times that Biden would...

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter) I wasn't here, Scott, so...

DETROW: Moving forward. Moving forward. Moving - you know, I was skeptical that he would resonate with the modern Democratic Party, that he would find a lane in a crowded field. I wasn't alone. And here we are. And I think that's all to say Biden and his team kind of have a bit of a chip on their shoulders at times. They feel like he was counted out in the election. He's been counted out many times as president. Look at the coverage of the midterms. Look at whether or not he could get those major bills passed that are now laws. And in the end, they feel like they trust their instincts, and that's why they're going into this reelection bid feeling pretty confident.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR White House correspondent Scott Detrow. Scott, thanks.

DETROW: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.