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Biden to hold first 2024 campaign rally in Philadelphia

Next week’s event with union leaders will start a long campaign for the 80-year-old incumbent.

(CN) — President Joe Biden will kick off his reelection campaign next weekend, holding his first rally in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Logistics of the event weren’t released along with Friday’s announcement, but it will be hosted by union leaders in Philadelphia on June 17.

Although Biden has held several big-money fundraisers with top Democratic donors, this will be his first public event. It’s a campaign that seeks to keep a familiar face leading the federal government – where Biden has been an elected member in some capacity for all but four years since 1973 – amid lingering questions about his age and stamina. Multiple surveys have indicated a lack of enthusiasm for the 80-year-old Biden seeking a second four-year term.

He would be 86 at the end of a second term but was already the oldest president in U.S. history when he was first inaugurated in 2021. Biden has taken several tumbles at public events, most recently at the Air Force Academy graduation, but has never been injured in any of the falls.

The White House has routinely deflected questions about Biden’s health to instead highlight his record in office. 

“This is a president, you know, that has had an incredibly impressive first two years, when you think about what he’s been able to get done,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier this week. “And that’s, I think, is what the American people are looking for. They’re looking for someone that can actually deliver like the president has done.”

Democrats have won Pennsylvania's 20 Electoral College votes in five of the six presidential elections since 2000, with the last two carrying razor-thin margins. Biden carried the state by a 1.2% advantage, or only 80,555 votes, in 2020, while Republican Donald Trump prevailed in 2016 by 0.7%, or 44,292 votes.

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at an event in Philadelphia earlier this week with the Service Employees International Union, highlighting the importance the campaign will place on organized labor.

“We believe our administration will prove to have been the most union-friendly administration in all of America’s history,” she said.

Biden has two announced challengers for the Democratic nomination, anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and author Marianne Williamson. Biden has an average of 59.3% in polls between May 3 and May 22, compared to 16.8% for Kennedy and 6.8% for Williamson, according to RealClearPolitics.

While Biden is the clear frontrunner, Kennedy’s polling average is at least noteworthy because only three people to mount a primary challenge to an incumbent president have received a double-digit percentage of the vote since widespread primary balloting started in the 1960s.

Most recently, Republican President George H.W. Bush prevailed in his primary with 72.8% over Pat Buchanan’s 23% in 1992. In 1980, Democratic President Jimmy Carter received only 51% to Ted Kennedy’s 37%. Republican President Gerald Ford narrowly won in 1976 with 53% to future President Ronald Reagan’s 45%.

Bush, Carter and Ford went on to lose the general election in those years.

No sitting president has lost a primary contest, although Harry Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson dropped out of the race after facing a strong challenger early in voting.

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Categories / Government, National, Politics

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