Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat-turned-Independent long known for his centrist views, voted for Joe Biden in 2020. But as Biden’s reelection campaign begins, Lieberman is preparing to recruit a third-party candidate capable of defeating the Democratic president.
“Centrists and moderates feel that he’s governed more from the left than they hoped,” Lieberman, a leader of the group, No Labels, said of Biden in an interview. “He hasn’t been able to be the unifier that he promised to be.”
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Liebermann has criticized the Democrat Party since leaving office in 2013. He went viral in 2019 for distancing himself from self-declared socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“With all respect, I certainly hope she’s not the future,” Lieberman said at the time, referring to the congresswoman’s proposal to raise the marginal tax rate to 70 percent. “And I don’t believe she is.”
Now, he’s exploring whether to push a third-party candidate in a potential rematch between Biden and former President Donald Trump.
“Look at the public polling… on the possibility of a Trump-Biden rematch. The people don’t want it. They want something different,” Libermann said. “A third-party line on the ballot of all 50 states… If there’s a real public demand for it and we think it will be something that’s still good for the country, we’re going to do it.”
Take a look —
Former Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Lieberman to guest host @cvpayne: We are taking heat from both sides, but there may be real demand for third party in 2024 race pic.twitter.com/biwguRn8Ng
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) April 28, 2023
Biden’s political challenges are not confined to voters in the middle. In the days since he formally launched his 2024 campaign, key members of the sprawling political coalition that lifted him over former President Donald Trump in 2020 are far from excited about the prospect of four more years. That underscores the test confronting Biden as he aims to motivate the coalition of women, independents, young people and suburban voters to show up for him again.
Nearly 18 months before Election Day 2024, however, it’s unclear how much this lack of enthusiasm will weigh on Biden’s reelection prospects. For all the concern, no high-profile Democratic primary challengers have emerged, and none are expected to. To date, only progressive author Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are mounting symbolic challenges to Biden, who has the official support of the Democratic National Committee.
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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden’s chief rival in the 2020 primary, told The Associated Press just hours after Biden announced that he was endorsing the president and encouraged other progressive leaders to do so as well.
“I intend to do everything I can to see that he is reelected,” Sanders said in an interview.
“It would be a mistake to underestimate Trump or whoever the Republican candidate might be,” Sanders said. “There’s a lot of discontent in this country. There’s a lot of anger in this country.”
Indeed, 74% of U.S. adults believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to an AP-NORC poll conducted a week before Biden’s announcement.
The poll found that only about half of Democrats think Biden should run again. Despite their reluctance, 81% of Democrats said they would probably support Biden in a general election if he is the nominee. That includes 41% who said they definitely would and 40% who said they probably would.
The warning signs in the Biden coalition are clear.
Just 41% of Black adults want the Democratic president to run again, and only 55% said they are likely to support him in the general election if he is the nominee. Among Latinos, only 27% want Biden to run again in 2024 and 43% said they would definitely or probably support him.
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Younger Democrats also remain a reluctant part of Biden’s coalition, the AP-NORC poll shows.
Just 25% of those under age 45 said they would definitely support Biden in a general election, compared with 56% of older Democrats.
Still, an additional 51% of younger Democrats say they would probably vote for Biden in a 2024 general election.
Meanwhile, just 14% of independents — adults who don’t lean toward either party, who represent a small percentage of the American electorate — want Biden to run again. And only 24% said they’d support him in the general election if he is the Democratic nominee.
Biden’s team has dismissed the numbers.
“Read the polls, Jack,” Biden said last year, citing a poll from The New York Times. “That poll said that 92 percent of Democrats, if I ran, would vote for me.”
However, Team Biden also acknowledges that, in his big tent coalition, some liberals may have preferences for other presidential contenders. It’s just that none of those other people can win, they say.
Biden supporters also argue that, while Biden might not be someone’s first choice, he’s often everyone’s second.
They cite one of Biden’s favorite political aphorisms: “Don’t judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative.”
Their confidence is grounded in Biden’s experience in 2020, when he was written off by much of the party, until it unified around him at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a consensus candidate best positioned to defeat Trump.
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Biden aides are expecting a rematch with Trump, and Biden has been casting cast all political rivals as extremists.
“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” Biden said last year in a 24-minute speech. “They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”
At a donor event in Washington on Friday, Biden’s efforts to highlight his support from all swaths of the party were on display, with young progressive Rep. Maxwell Frost joining more establishment lawmakers like Sens. Chris Coons and Bob Casey. Investor Tom Steyer, who was among the Democrats who challenged Biden in 2020, also attended.
Allies said one key reason why the president selected Julie Chavez Rodriguez as his campaign manager was her ability to maintain close ties with a wide swath of the Democratic coalition during her time as White House director of intergovernmental affairs.
Meanwhile, Lieberman said he would likely soon begin interviewing potential candidates for No Label’s third-party alternative to Biden and the eventual Republican nominee.
Already, No Labels has secured a spot on the presidential ballot in four states, including swing states Arizona and Colorado. Lieberman noted that the group would not field a candidate if polling suggested the so-called unity ticket does not have a viable path to the presidency.
“If No Labels does not run a bipartisan unity ticket, and the two candidates are Trump and Biden, to me, it’s an easy choice,” Lieberman said. “I will vote for Biden.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.