WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Joe Biden took the podium Tuesday night to deliver his State of the Union address, which should have been a high point of his presidency. He has repeatedly defeated adversity with a string of legislative gains and historically strong midterm results in which Democrats held the seats. His strong support for Ukraine has been praised. And the clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic have dissipated.
But Tuesday night, he faced a problem that had plagued him for years: doubt.
Polls show that most Americans overlook his successes and disapprove of his management. Even among Democrats, there are those who doubt whether he should seek re-election amid concerns about his age.
It all came together at a high-stakes time for Biden, providing him with the last, best opportunity to make his case for re-election before any formal announcement.
The president left no doubt that he believes he has a job to do as president. Addressing Republicans who hold a majority in the House of Representatives, Biden said “the people have sent us a clear message” about the need to find common ground.
“We have been sent here to complete the work,” he said.
Although Biden often used the language of cooperation, he took on some criticism from the other party, such as when he talked about Republicans who voted against his infrastructure bill but spent less in their districts. Celebrating wealth.
“Don’t worry,” he remarked. “I have promised to be the president of all Americans. We will finance these projects. And I’ll see you at the opening.”
At another point, Biden accused Republicans of trying to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for older Americans, drawing cries of “liars” from his critics.
Biden replied with a smile, deviating from the text he had prepared for the speech. “Whoever doubts, contact my office, I will give you a copy of the resolution.” It was an exchange more appropriate for debate than the State of the Union Address.
Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for Biden to announce his decision about running for re-election. He promised that he would make such an announcement early this year.
“Until you make an announcement, it remains a question that hangs on every word you say,” said former White House political director and Democratic National Committee official Patrick Gaspard.
Gaspard, who is currently president of the libertarian-leaning Center for American Progress, said the union’s address is “the initial step in making the case for re-election and in this case, it certainly is.”
American presidents almost never miss an opportunity for a second term in office. The last to do so was Lyndon Johnson, who declined to run for re-election in 1968 while the country was embroiled in the controversial Vietnam War.
But at the same time there has never been a president the age of President Biden. He is 80 years old and if he wins a second term, he will be 86 when he expires. His first attempt at the White House was in 1988.
Biden said in his speech, ‘ This place is not new to me. “I have served here tonight as long as almost all of you have served here.”
American presidential historian Lindsay Chervinsky believes that Biden’s age is the “big unknown” that sets him apart from his predecessors. Chervinsky said that during other presidencies, even when the polls were not in the president’s favor, “no one was suggesting that he would not seek re-election.”
He said, “If I was 10 years younger, no one would be talking about it.”