Clip: Biden launches 2024 reelection bid, setting stage for possible Trump rematch

Apr. 28, 2023 AT 9 p.m. EDT

President Biden made it official this week, announcing his 2024 reelection bid and setting the stage for a possible 2024 rematch against his predecessor. Former President Trump, the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, immediately went on the attack.

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Laura Barron-Lopez: We want to turn to 2024 now. President Biden officially announced this week he is running for a second term, setting the stage for a possible 2024 rematch against his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Joe Biden: The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead, we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Trump, the current frontrunner for the GOP's presidential nomination, responded in his own video.

Donald Trump: When I stand on that debate stage and compare our records, it will be radical Democrats' worst nightmare.

Laura Barron-Lopez: President Trump, Mario, went on to also say in that video again that the election was rigged, that it was stolen. Those lies, plus the efforts by Republicans in a number of states to restrict abortion, LGBTQ rights, to ban books, is a big part of why President Biden focused his re-election launch on freedom -- what they describe as freedom. Is this a new message from the president?

Mario Parker: It's just a continuation. I think when we hear the president say, finish the job, he means the job that he outlined in 2020 when he said that he was galvanized by what happened in Charlottesville, right? So, if you look at the -- if you read the tea leaves from his first presidential -- his 2024 ad, we don't see the traditional hardhats and construction workers or American flag until almost two minutes into that video. What we see is January 6. We hear 30 seconds in him invoke MAGA, and him linking that to voting rights, to abortion rights, all of those different things as well. And so he is almost downright giddy at the prospect of having a rematch with former President Donald Trump.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Dan, in addition to the presidents launch video, the Democratic National Committee as well as some other Democratic super PACs are heavily focused on abortion and guns. But what stands out to you about the way the president is shaping the argument for his second term?

Dan Balz: I agree with Mario. I was struck by the fact that the parallelism between the opening of the 2020 video, which was Charlottesville and the opening of the 2024, which is January 6th, and then a very fast pivot to the abortion issue in particular, which said to me he is running a combination of what he did in 2020, which was a focus on President Trump and the threats that Trump has done to the country and the threats to democracy in particular, and amping that up because of January 6th and the election denialism that the former president has continued to talk about.

And at the same time, a version of what he and the Democrats did in 2022, which was to focus on abortion and guns, but particularly abortion as a motivating force to bring Democrats out. He wants this, as do all presidents running for re-election not be a referendum on him. He wants it to be a choice. And in Donald Trump, he has the ideal foil to be able to make it a choice and not a referendum.

Laura Barron-Lopez: And, John, Donald Trump is still the front runner in this race in the GOP primary, despite the fact that these investigations are looming in particular, his former vice president, Mike Pence, just testified on Thursday for hours before a federal grand jury about the president's potential efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The district attorney in Fulton County, in Georgia, says that she will decide whether or not to charge the former president in their investigation in the election results in Georgia. Are any of his challengers seizing on this?

John Bresnahan: I mean, they -- look, right now -- and he has been indicted in New York on 34 felony counts. So, I mean, I do think they are not directly seizing on it, but I do -- they are clearly intimating that he's got problems and that he's got more baggage than any president in history and is running again.

And I do think, and I think that they are kind of echoing a little bit what you see Biden is saying. The message of Trump is, in a lot of ways, he will go back -- he only remembers the first three years of his presidency. He does not remember the last year. He never talks about that. The pandemic does not exist in his mind, okay? And in the Biden message subtly, to me, is chaos, that Trump was chaos. And I think we see that with some of these ads.

I think DeSantis is presenting in particular the image of competency. I got through the chaos in a competent way. I managed Florida in a competent way. And Tim Scott has this upbeat approach and Asa Hutchinson and Nikki Haley have different approaches. I do think they are trying to come at it indirectly. I don't think they can say really -- I don't think you will see DeSantis at this point or anybody say, look, you know, he could be in prison. I don't think he is going to say that. But, look, it is his problem, let him clean it up.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Yes. Ron DeSantis so far has not been forcefully going after him on January 6th. But speaking of DeSantis, he -- and abortion, which we've been talking about, he signed a six-week abortion ban in Florida.

Melanie, you have covered GOP efforts to restrict abortion. Do Republicans in Congress think that abortion is political quicksand now?

Melanie Zanona: Absolutely, yes. Literally, when I was trying to ask Republicans their reaction to the abortion pill ruling, they were running away from me. They've been running across the street into traffic to avoid my question.

And the last time they had the majority, they -- in years like 2017, 2015, they passed a federal abortion ban, a 20-week federal abortion ban. And me and my colleagues did some digging and they have no intentions of putting an abortion ban on the floor partly because they don't have the votes. They only have a four-seat margin. They have moderates. But it's also because they recognize that this was such a liability for them in the midterms, and they would much rather just stick their heads in the sand and try to ignore it.

But the problem is when you let the states be in the driver seat, you are going to have states like Florida that are signing six-week bans. You are going to have these Supreme Court rulings that are out of their hands, and they are going to be forced to answer for the results of those.

And so there is debate internally in the GOP right now, do we continue to ignore this or can we address it, can we lean into this somehow in a way that can politically benefit us, but they just have not decided in what that message would be.

Laura Barron-Lopez: And, Dan, sticking with DeSantis, he appears to be jumping in relatively soon to the race, but he is facing a lawsuit from Disney for using his state power essentially to go after a company for disagreeing with him on the don't say gay bill. It is not just Democrats criticizing DeSantis, though, is it?

Dan Balz: No, not at all. And this Disney battle has turned into quite an ordeal for him. I mean, he fired the first shots in this a year ago when Disney took issue with the don't say gay bill, and I think he thought he had the upper hand, and he was handsomely rewarded with a big re-election victory, and I think he came out of that thinking that he was doing the right thing and that people were rewarding him for it.

But Disney is playing a long game and they have been in Florida a long time and they will be in Florida long after Ron DeSantis is governor. And this has become a problem for him rather than a pure asset. He has got to deal with this.

And I think there are Republicans and others who see this as a misuse of kind of conservative values and strategies. The idea that you are using government to go after the private sector kind of turns historic conservatism on its head. And he is beginning to have some of that backlash. So, he is potentially losing a war with Disney over the particulars, and he's getting criticism from other conservatives about the strategy.

So, this is one more piece of evidence that he is kind of -- he's finding his footing and sometimes not finding it very successfully as he makes the transition from being a successful statewide candidate to the national stage.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Yes, like you said, turning conservatism on its head and using government in a very different form than it has been used previously.

But I think that we got to leave it there. I know we can continue going on about the 2024 field and how it is taking shape. So, thanks to all of our panelists for joining us and for sharing your reporting.


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