President Joe Biden, looking confident after Tuesday’s midterm elections, said Wednesday it is still his intention to seek reelection – even though two-thirds of voters in exit polls said they preferred he not seek a second term.
“Our intention is to run again,” Biden said, referring to himself and his family. That was the case “regardless of what the outcome of this election was,” he said – though the unexpectedly strong showing by his Democratic Party clearly took some steam out of calls to step aside for another generation of contenders.
The president said he doesn’t “feel any hurry one way or the other” to make a decision, but said it would probably come early next year.
Biden spoke during a wide-ranging, hour-long press conference the day after Democrats scored a series of election wins against historical trends that favor the party out of power.
While noting that it still was not clear who will control Congress, he said he was eager to work with Republicans, and expected them to work with him as well.
Asked what he would do differently given the high percentage of people in exit polls who said they did not like the direction the country was taking, Biden said, “nothing.”
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Americans were not yet feeling the impact of some of the policies and programs he has achieved, such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which should begin producing new jobs next year, he said. While Democrats may lose a modest number of seats when all the votes are tallied, it is not a mandate to undo such programs as capping the price of insulin and overall prescription drug costs for Medicare patients, he said.
Polling before the elections indeed showed that about 70% of Americans are not happy with the state of the country. But the number does not distinguish between those who are unhappy with Democratic policies, and those who are worried about such issues as the fate of American democracy or abortion rights.
Biden said that even if Republicans assume control of the House, he does not anticipate aid to Ukraine will be eliminated. GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy of California – a leading contender to be speaker of the House if his party takes power – would likely not have enough votes in his own caucus to do that anyway, Biden said.
The president expressed some optimism that now that the midterm elections are over, he could convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to a prisoner swap to bring home WNBA star Brittney Griner.
“I am determined to get her home, and get her home safely,” Biden said of the athlete, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term on what the United States said was trumped-up drug charges.
Biden looked bemused when asked about the big win Tuesday night of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
“It would be fun watching them take each other on,” Biden said.