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Yes, Joe Biden plans to run for president again, says wife Jill

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US First Lady Jill Biden wants Americans to know that her husband, President Joe Biden, plans to run for a second four-year term and she is all for it – even if a formal statement is made his intentions are yet to be made.

Jill Biden, asked by CNN about her husband’s plans for a just-completed trip to Namibia and Kenya, said she expected him to announce a campaign and dismissed a question about whether the 80-year-old Democrat could drop out of a 2024 candidacy .

“I’m all for it, of course,” said the first lady, whose opinion is seen as crucial to the president’s upcoming plans, even as he consults with a close group of longtime political advisers.

She made even more outspoken remarks to the Associated Press during the trip when asked if the president is running again: “How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?”

Whether Biden should run in 2024 remains a matter of debate among Democrats. Another run would test whether voters are willing to give Biden, already the oldest American president of all time, another four years in office.

Biden himself has repeatedly said he intends to run for re-election and has dismissed questions about his age, but has yet to make a formal statement.

“There are too many other things that we need to do on short notice before I start a campaign,” he told ABC’s David Muir at the White House.

Biden said last November he would decide in early 2023 whether to run again, but an announcement is not expected until spring.

Biden has yet to face a major key challenger, and he has shown no urgency to formalize a reelection bid.

Biden spent the first few weeks of the year over a controversy over classified documents, and more recently his focus on foreign policy, including a surprise trip to Ukraine, has dominated his schedule.

Cedric Richmond, a former Biden White House aide, said Biden would announce “whenever he’s ready” when asked if an announcement was coming in March or April.

Any reelection bid would likely be heavily influenced by Biden’s inner circle of White House advisors. But a campaign manager has not yet been identified, nor has the location of his campaign headquarters been identified.

Polls show concerns about his age among some Americans, as Biden would be 86 at the end of a prospective second term.

About 46% of respondents to a Reuters/Ipsos poll earlier this month said the phrase “Joe Biden is too old to work in government” strongly describes the president, with 24% of Democrats and 49% of Independents holding that view represent.

About 71% of respondents, including 52% of Democrats, said they don’t believe Biden should seek re-election in 2024.

On the Republican side, former President Donald Trump, who will be 78 by the time of the 2024 election, and Nikki Haley, Trump’s former UN ambassador and former South Carolina governor, have declared themselves as 2024 candidates.

Democratic strategist Bud Jackson said the question of whether Biden should run again is a topic of great debate in Democratic circles.

“Almost everyone I speak to is concerned about their age,” Jackson said, but “almost everyone I speak to gives them the benefit of the doubt that they should still be walking.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Heather Timmons and Leslie Adler)

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