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NYS Democratic Chair Jacobs says Biden has strong record for 2024 bid

President Joe Biden spoke to IBM employees in Poughkeepsie on Thursday
Lucas WIllard
President Joe Biden spoke to IBM employees in Poughkeepsie on Thursday

President Biden has made it official: he’s running for re-election in 2024. Biden is hoping his legislative achievements and a call to work together will resonate with voters, who remain bitterly divided and dissatisfied with Washington. Biden would be 86 at the end of his second term, and faces a possible 2020 rematch against former President Donald Trump — or a matchup with a number of other ambitious Republicans. For analysis we’re joined by New York state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs.

What was your first reaction to this official announcement by the president that he will in fact go for a second term?

Well, of course, this wasn't a surprise. We've known this is coming for some time now. And I think it's going to be a very good campaign. And I think he's going to do very well, and I'm happy that he's running.

What do you think his message should be to voters?

Well, I think first and foremost, I think he's got to make clear with voters what he has already accomplished. There's so much misinformation out there. I think Joe Biden, if you take a look at the record, take a look at what he has delivered. Never mind infrastructure, turning the economy, around 12 million jobs created since he took office. I think you see these are the hallmarks of a very successful presidency so far. People are not getting that, that doesn't resonate yet. So, I think the campaign has to really nail down with the public what he has gotten done, and it is significant. Then secondly, what he's going to do. He talks about restoring the soul of America or the fight for the soul of America, and he talks about ensuring freedoms for all Americans and equal opportunity. These are important pieces of a campaign. I

know that, for the most part, voters vote based on their pocketbooks. So, the economy, and what he's doing for the economy, and how he's going to continue to see the economy improve, I think will be very important. I think that Republicans spent a lot of time in the last election, pointing out how gas prices have gone up and how inflation is soaring and now they've gone mute, they're quiet, they're silent, why? Gas prices are coming down. The President's actions have also helped on inflation. Never mind what the Fed has done and so you have to focus on those economic issues and I think that that'll lead to our success.

Why do you think his achievements have not reached the American people, as you say?

Well, I think, first of all, the American public always focuses on things that matter individually to them. They've got daily lives; they don't follow the news the way some of us in politics do. So, we kind of take for granted that they're going to hear these things and they're focused on other things right now. And then, of course, you've got all of the misinformation out there, you've got a large segment of the public watching Fox News, listening to a lot of garbage and, frankly, if that's where you get your news from, or you get your news from social media, it's not going to be sufficient. I think we've got to just get a campaign underway, where we're driving the news through paid media and other mail and of course, social media that we're pushing, I think that does get that record out.

What would you say to people who might not have a problem with President Biden, might like some of the things he's done, but think that mid-80s to 86 is just too old for this job?

Well, I don't want him representing the United States at the Olympics, either. But that's not what we're looking for here. We're looking for someone to represent us and to lead us here in this country. I've been with President Biden on three different occasions, not too many months ago, and in the fall and late fall. Not for long periods of time, but certainly enough time to see him in action with myself and with other people that I was there with. This guy is on the ball and all the things that have been said about him and that they're trying to make people believe that he's slowed down, I haven't seen it. I haven't seen it live and in person and I know people who've been with him, they haven't seen it, and you see the schedule that he runs. He was just over in Ireland at one event after the other, one speech after another. This guy is always hopping on board Air Force One going all over the country, meeting people and making speeches. He's a vigorous guy and 80 for one person isn't 80 for everybody.

So, all I will say to you is, we talk about all of this, what we shouldn't discriminate, we shouldn't prejudge, and all the rest of it. And yet, so many people are willing to do it when it comes to age and I just don't think that's right and fair. When he demonstrates he can't do the job, well, I'll take another look at it. But right now, every indication I've had, never mind the results that he's been able to accomplish what other presidents struggled with but he has gotten done. The respect that he has and admiration, frankly, from other foreign leaders. What he's been able to do in helping Ukraine and building up the NATO alliance and tightening up all of these things demonstrate to me, a guy who's very capable. I'm not worried about where his age goes, as long as he feels that he's healthy and capable and he demonstrates it. I think we should take him at his word we should let our eyes be the judge and I think he's fine.

Some of former President Trump's rivals for the GOP nomination have made the point that they think Biden can beat Trump a second time, but might not be able to beat a different candidate. Do you have a choice candidate on the Republican side that you think Biden does better against? And do you think that that argument bears any truth?

Well, I mean, Trump is the devil we know. So, I think I would agree with them in the first instance, that I don't see how Trump grows his 74 million votes, which is what he got in 2020. I don't see how you get 74,000,001 votes. I don't see who else would now say they want Trump. So, I think he's kind of capped and I think my guess is that number is going to diminish. I think that Biden's number, he was about 80 to 81, 82 million. I think that can go up a little bit. So, I do see that argument and when it comes to other candidates on the Republican side, you know, look at the DeSantis train that's becoming a train wreck. In the beginning, when DeSantis was out there, he was shaking in their boots about DeSantis. Now, all of a sudden once a person gets close to running for president, he gets the scrutiny that you get running for that office different than scrutiny for any other office in the country. And all of a sudden you find out the guy is not likable. He's got a glass jaw. He's doing a lot of stupid things that are aggravating people, unnecessarily. He doesn't get his politics right and he's imploding.

So, I'm not that worried about the fresh new thing that the Republicans are going to put out there, because every one of those fresh new things are on the radical side. When it comes to women's reproductive rights, they're on the radical side. When it comes to gun control, they’re on the radical side. When it comes to economic issues, particularly so many of them want to reduce or even eliminate Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. I mean, these aren't things that are going to resonate with voters, and I don't care who they put up. So, bottom line of it is the Republican Party better straighten itself out, you know, understand that overwhelmingly, most voters in America are moderate, either moderate left or moderate right, but certainly not extreme and this Republican Party is run by a group of extremists. So, I don't care who they put up. I think Joe Biden is going to clean their clock.

One more thing, Jay. We are speaking in what is now the fourth week of overdue New York state budget negotiations. Of course, Albany is run by your Democratic Party, which controls the legislature and the governorship. Do you think any damage has been done to the party's reputation given this late budget?

Not at all. I think the proof will be in the outcome and I think people are less interested in when a budget comes out, then they are interested in a good budget and good items that come out. And I think that's going to be the determinant factor. I think that Andrea Stewart Cousins, the Senate Leader, and Carl Heastie, our speaker in the assembly is doing a great job trying to pull all this together working with Governor Hochul. They're all working very hard. Of course, they have their caucuses in each house to deal with and to pull together. So, we bring together a consensus. I think the governor is working collaboratively and doing very well at it. And I think at the end, what comes out is going to be how we're judged, not the process. I think voters don't care a bit about the process. The news media and the politicians and the pundits all care about it. It's absolutely a zero when it comes to voter impact on election day.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.