Joe Biden says he plans to run for re-election in 2024

President announces plan for 200m vaccine shots in first 100 days at first press conference

US president Joe Biden smiles during the first news conference of his presidency in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. Photograph:  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

US president Joe Biden smiles during the first news conference of his presidency in the East Room of the White House on Thursday. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 

US president Joe Biden said he expects to run for a second term as president, as he held his first formal press conference at the White House on Thursday.

Asked if he would run in 2024, he replied: “The answer is yes. My plan is to run for re-election,” adding that he expected vice-president Kamala Harris to be his running mate.

Pressed on the issue, he emphasised that it was his expectation, stressing that he does not plan ahead. “I’m a great respecter of fate. I’ve never been able to plan 3½, four years ahead, for certain.”

At 78, Mr Biden is the oldest person to have held the presidency. Asked if he expected to run against former president Donald Trump in 2024, he joked: “Oh God, I miss him,” adding: “I have no idea whether there will be a Republican Party, do you?”

Thursday’s hour-long press conference in the East Room of the White House was the first time Mr Biden has been subject to sustained questioning by the media since his inauguration, though he has engaged with the press several times at smaller events.

Though most of the questions concerned the migration crisis at the border, the press conference touched on a range of issues including voting rights, his infrastructure plan and foreign policy. He also announced plans to deliver 200 million Covid-19 vaccine shots in his first 100 days.

Speaking for the first time since North Korea launched short-range missiles in recent days, Mr Biden said he was “prepared for some form of diplomacy”. But he also warned that America would respond accordingly.

“We’re consulting with our allies and partners. There will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly, but I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned on the end result of denuclearisation,” he said. The recent missile launches marked the first aggressive action by Pyongyang in about a year.

‘Smart, smart guy’

On China, Mr Biden described Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “smart, smart guy” who “doesn’t have a democratic with a small D bone in his body”.

“He’s one of the guys like Putin who thinks that autocracy is the wave of the future,” he said. But he said his administration would insist that China “play by the international rules” and that there would be no tolerance for human rights violations.

It follows an acrimonious meeting between secretary of state Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan and their Chinese counterparts in Alaska a week ago.  

As he marked his 65th day in the presidency, Mr Biden was also probed on his efforts to work with Republicans in Congress – a key promise during the election campaign – given that much of the legislation he wants to pass needs Republican votes to circumvent the 60-40 Senate filibuster rule.

He stopped short of calling for the abolition of the filibuster, which would make it much easier for Democrats to pass legislation, though he suggested he did want reform.

“Successful electoral politics is the art of the possible,” he said. “Let’s figure out how we can get this done and move in the direction of significantly changing the abuse of . . . the filibuster rule.”

Voting rights

But Mr Biden berated Republicans for their stance on voting rights, as Republican-controlled legislatures in several states try to curb voting access.  

“What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is,” he said, calling efforts to curtail voting options “sick” and “pernicious”.

Asked how he planned to secure meaningful change on policy priorities like climate change, gun control, immigration and voting rights without Republican help, he said:

“My Republican colleagues are going to have determine whether they’ve decided that the way in which they want to proceed is to just divide the country, continue the politics of division.”