U.S. President Joe Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his proposed Federal budget for the fiscal year 2024 at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 9, 2023.

(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

The Speech That Biden Should Give: ‘I’ve Changed My Mind’

With poll numbers frighteningly low and the stakes astronomically high, here's what the president should say as he assesses his 2024 run.

My fellow Americans:

I’ve changed my mind. With a heavy heart, I am announcing that I will not seek or accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2024.

The poll numbers indicate that I would be a burden on the party’s national ticket next year and would also have problematic effects on many down-ballot races. It’s time to face grim political realities—however unfortunate they may be.

While I appreciate the loyalty of so many Democrats in Congress who would like to run for the 2024 presidential nomination but would not consider running against me, I now realize that my insistence on seeking re-election has had important negative effects. And the longer I delay in announcing a change of course, the less time they’ll have to build their own national campaigns.

The specter of a second Donald Trump presidency is just too cataclysmic to allow any personal political ambition on my part to serve as an enabler to that fascistic demagogue.

I must acknowledge the fact that my capacities to defeat Trump are greatly diminished—perhaps first and foremost because, seeking re-election, I would be representing a status quo that so many Americans are now telling pollsters they believe is on the wrong track. I have come to question the claims of my friends and boosters that I’m best positioned to defeat Trump in 2024 because I did so in 2020. To be frank, that’s malarky.

I won in 2020 largely due to big turnouts from African Americans and young people, voting for me in lopsided numbers. But, sadly, since then my support among black voters has dropped, and more than 90 percent of young Democrats told pollsters last summer that they wanted a Democratic nominee other than me.

In recent months, three of my administration’s decisions—for oil drilling in the Arctic, a hefty boost for liquified natural gas exports, and extensive oil leasing in the Gulf of Mexico—have further eroded my standing among environmentally minded voters and young voters in particular. I’ve been told that these decisions have disappointed many Democratic activists and seemed to show a cavalier attitude toward the climate crisis that I have repeatedly labeled as “existential.”

I now believe that an open contested primary is the best path forward for Democrats as we look toward the 2024 election. I will no longer stand in the way—which should encourage Democratic aspirants to step forward and help assure a truly open presidential primary process. Such a process of debate, and then party unity, helped us to defeat Trump in 2020. Such a process can and should do the same in 2024.

I am known for being verbose to the point of becoming stumbly and sometimes even unfathomable, so I’ll leave it there. More than a year and a half remains in my presidential term. During that time, I will concentrate on doing the best job as president that I can.

It has been reported by many journalists that I am a great believer in fate. I will not deny it. But I have come to realize that fate should not be understood as fatalism or passivity. The Democratic Party will be running against an extreme MAGA Republican Party next year. It is time to discard illusions and get on with that monumental task.

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