The president said in no uncertain terms that Vice President Kamala Harris will be his running mate in 2024, reassuring skeptics amid speculation about both of their futures while also admitting that he understood — while pushing back against — the narrative that he may have let down Black voters to whom campaign promises have not been kept.
President Joe Biden‘s affirmative response to a direct question about who would be leading the Democratic ticket in two years came during a wide-ranging press conference held in the White House on Wednesday, one day before the one-year anniversary of his and Harris’ historic inaugurations.
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Biden was pressed on a number of issues, including and especially voting rights, a priority for which Biden assigned Harris to take the lead — and one in which he expressed the utmost confidence in the vice president’s ability to handle. But when Biden was asked to respond to Black voters who, polling shows, are dissatisfied with the president’s effort on securing voting rights, the answer was a little more complicated.
About an hour into the press conference, NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker asked Biden about Black voters who “feel like you’re not fighting hard enough for them.” Welker said Black voters see Biden’s recently renewed push for voting rights as a “last-minute” attempt to save face on a topic that is largely seen as immediately unattainable despite the president’s campaign promise to the contrary.
“I’ve had their back,” Biden said about Black voters, taking apparent umbrage to the implication that he has let Black voters down. “I’ve never not had their back.”
Harkening back to his time as a U.S. Senator who successfully negotiated voting rights in the past, Biden admitted the recent optics behind his increasingly vocal support for voting rights legislation might send the wrong message to his base.
“I’m sure there are those saying, ‘Why didn’t Biden push John Lewis bill 6 months ago?’” Biden said in reference to the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. “The fact is that there is a timing that is not one’s own choices and are dictated by events,” Biden added without going into specifics.
He blamed himself as well as the pandemic for having “not been out in the community nearly enough,” calling that “part of the problem.”
When Welker pressed Biden on whether Harris would seek re-election along with him in 2024 and if he had any regrets assigning her to take the lead on voting rights, Biden was much more direct with his answers.
“Yes and yes,” Biden said succinctly.
When asked to expound, Biden was straightforward.
“She’s gonna be my running mate,” he declared.
As far as Harris leading on voting rights, Biden supported the vice president unequivocally.
“I did put her in charge,” Biden said. “I think she’s doing a good job.”
Biden’s press conference came as Senate Democrats were moving forward with trying to change the filibuster rule in what will likely be an unsuccessful attempt to advance voting rights legislation thanks in no small part to Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema’s opposition to their party’s agenda.