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OpinionColumnistsDan Janison

Biden goes for 'expectation' management when prodded about his future

President Joe Biden on Thursday at his first

President Joe Biden on Thursday at his first news conference in office. Credit: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Did anyone expect a different answer from President Joe Biden when he was asked on Thursday — barely nine weeks into his term — if he'll seek reelection in 2024?

If, at 78, he harbors reasonable doubts, Biden would have no incentive to say so. Balking at the prospect irresistibly feeds speculation about a successor of either party. Had his answer created real news, any of his messages of the day would have been eclipsed.

During his first news conference as president, Biden fenced with reporters in the conventional way.

The question arose: "Have you decided whether you are going to run for reelection in 2024? You haven’t set up a reelection campaign yet, as your predecessor had by this time."

Bidden laughed and said, "My predecessor. Oh, God, I miss him."

Prodded again, Biden replied: "My plan is to run for reelection. That’s my expectation."

The topic returned a short while later.

One reporter said, "You also just made some news by saying that you are going to run for reelection," prompting the president to reply, "I said, ‘That is my expectation.’ "

Asked if that was a yes — that he's running — Biden said: "Look, I — I don’t know where you guys come from, man … I’m a great respecter of fate. I’ve never been able to plan four and half, three and a half years ahead for certain."

Then he was asked if Vice President Kamala Harris would be on his ticket if he ran again.

"I would fully expect that to be the case. She’s doing a great job. She’s a great partner. She’s a great partner," he said.

And did he expect to be running against predecessor Donald Trump?

At this point, Biden slyly shifted the heat toward partisan detractors. He said: "I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you? I know you don’t have to answer my question, but, I mean, you know, do you?"

The demise of the GOP isn't known to be on any mainstream agenda. Biden took the opportunity to toss out the idea, perhaps in a half-serious way.

Everyone in the East Room had reason to know the limits of guessing years ahead of an event.

But the 2024 question had cause to be asked. After all, Trump did declare his bid for reelection nearly the moment he arrived and began sucking up campaign contributions. Three years later, the election was Trump's to lose — and that's just what he proceeded to do.