Paul Begala loves Joe Biden. He said so while debating Andrew Yang on CNN Tuesday. The two men were part of a panel and the discussion turned to the 2024 Democrat presidential primary. Begala, a Democrat strategist from the days of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and Yang, a former Democrat turned Independent who ran in the 2020 Democrat presidential primary and for Mayor of NYC, are not on the same page when it comes to Biden running for re-election.
Begala took Yang to task over whether or not Biden should run for re-election in 2024. Yang said what everyone knows – there is very little enthusiasm among Democrats for Biden to run again. Yang said that when he ran against Biden, it was clear that Biden was not delivering good debate performances during the early debates. He noted the audience reactions to Biden that were less than enthusiastic. Will Biden be up to debating challengers in 2024? Yang said that Biden would likely face challengers from the progressive wing of the party but not from mainstream Democrats.
Yang, a former Democrat who became an independent, said if Biden did run, he likely wouldn’t face primary challenges from mainstream Democrats but would from more progressive hopefuls. He said that one potential challenger, former Bernie Sanders national campaign surrogate and defeated congressional candidate Nina Turner, could receive “significant support.”
Yang also suggested Biden would shrink from debates and questioned his vigor during the 2020 primary process. “All of a sudden he developed it,” Begala snapped back.
Biden will be 82 years old when he’s up for re-election. His mental and physical deterioration is apparent to even casual observers. That’s not being mean, that’s reality. Biden has been in elected office for 50 years and his aging, while normal, is not something that produces a lot of confidence in voters. He carries note cards to remember talking points and basic instructions like reminders to say hello to others in the room and where to sit. During Jake Tapper’s interview with Biden, also Tuesday on CNN, Biden dropped his note card and Tapper graciously picked it up and returned it to him.
Yang’s mild criticisms seemed to unnerve Begala. He reminded Yang who the “real” Democrats are and it ain’t the white liberals on Twitter.
“You’re missing the most important thing, Andrew,” Begala said. “The early states are full of white liberals. They don’t like Joe. Then when we move to real Democrats, African Americans in the south, they loved him and he steamrolled everybody. Because in my party, the heart and soul of the party are people of color, not pain-in-the-ass white liberals on Twitter. I’m sorry to use bad language.”
Begala’s rant came off as defensive and condescending to Yang, a person of color. Those pain-in-the-ass white liberals that Begala dismisses as a thorn in his side sure provided him with a comfortable living for many years as a political consultant for the likes of Clinton and others. Granted, black voters vote as a block and Democrats take their support for granted. But, Biden’s campaign was smart enough to court the support of Jim Clyburn in South Carolina before that state’s primary in 2020. Biden was losing so badly in primaries up until that time that the South Carolina primary was a make or break kind of situation for his campaign. Clyburn rallied black voters to vote for Biden and the rest is history.
About 9 in 10 Black voters cast their ballot for Biden in the 2020 election. Black voters’ support for Biden dipped since he took office, but remains relatively high. A recent NPR-Marist poll found that 71% of Black voters approved of Biden’s job performance, vs. 43% of white voters and 39% of Latino voters.
Biden’s overall approval rating among Democrats is 87%, according to the poll.
Begala is as nervous as any other Democrat right now. He knows there’s a Republican wave coming that will take control of the House and maybe the Senate, too. That will shut down Biden’s rampantly progressive agenda for the rest of his term. Will Democrats stay with him and enthusiastically support his re-election in 2024? That’s the question. Democrats have a shallow bench of potential candidates. Biden was the best they could do last time around. He’s convinced he’ll beat Trump again if 2024 turns into a re-match. Let’s hope that neither Biden nor Trump run again and allow the next generation to take over. Republicans have a strong bench to look to for 2024.