When Donald Trump received an indictment for attempting to influence the 2020 election, President Joe Biden was on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. While TV news anchors debated the meaning of the four felony charges, which bring Trump’s total number of criminal charges across multiple investigations to 78, Biden went on bike rides along a scenic salt marsh, ate at a seafood restaurant, and experienced the film Oppenheimer in a theatre.
The next day, as Biden rode his bike by a swarm of reporters, an Associated Press reporter exclaimed, “Indictments?” The President continued to ride.
Biden’s approach for Trump’s third indictment was the same as it had been for the previous two: keep out of the way. According to White House sources, Biden does not want to comment on Trump’s claims because he does not want to influence the judicial process.
Those two previous indictments, though, were for Trump’s use of hush money to cover up an affair and his handling of confidential materials. The fresh allegations strike at the heart of Biden’s political pitch to voters in 2024: that the radical ideals reflected by Trump and championed by a sizable portion of the Republican Party pose a threat to American democracy.
According to Simon Rosenberg, a long-time Democratic strategist, Biden “will be measured in how he approaches all of this given the many ongoing court cases.”
Biden traveled to engagements with the phrase “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” written on the side of his campaign bus during his first successful run for President in 2020. Two years later, when control of both the Senate and the House was up for grabs, made the concept that America’s democracy was in danger a big element of his message to midterm voters.
He’s planning a similar tactic for his 2024 campaign, while also emphasizing his efforts to generate manufacturing jobs and improve salaries.
It’s going to be a close contest. A recent New York Times/Siena survey found Biden and Trump neck and neck in a probable general election matchup.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Jack Smith to handle the federal investigations against Trump last November in order to keep the prosecution of Biden’s main political challenger at bay.
Pushing back on dictatorial ideals that undermine genuine election outcomes will be a crucial component of Biden’s 2024 campaign argument to voters. However, Biden’s ability to pursue that issue may be limited. Not only is he hesitant to appear to be rooting for the prosecutors, but Trump and his defenders have presented all of Trump’s legal difficulties as a campaign ploy organized by Biden.
“The whole Biden Administration understands that I’m the ONLY candidate who would beat Crooked Joe in a free and fair election,” Trump said in a fundraising message to followers last week. “Their only hope is to put me in JAIL for the rest of my life.”
Rosenberg points out that Republicans have previously gone to the polls to defend Donald Trump’s election falsehoods and fared badly. According to him, every Republican candidate for secretary of state who rejected the legitimacy of the 2020 election results lost their contests.
“These issues were heavily litigated in the battleground in 2022, and it didn’t go well for Republicans, and it’s not going to go well for them again in 2024 because Trump represents a far more clear and present danger to our democracy than he did even in the last election,” Rosenberg writes.
This time, Trump is running as a former President defending himself against allegations stemming from his attempts to cling to power, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. While the prosecution will undoubtedly be a topic in next year’s presidential election, it will be up to Biden and his team to decide how much they will discuss it.