WASHINGTON (OSV News) – President Joe Biden announced April 25 that he will seek a second term in the White House. Biden, a Democrat, is the nation's second Catholic president, but his reelection would make him the first Catholic to serve twice in the Oval Office.
In a video message titled "Freedom," Biden said, "When I ran for president four years ago, I said we are in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are."
"The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer," Biden said. "I know what I want the answer to be. This is not a time to be complacent. That's why I'm running for reelection."
Amid video images from the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol and an image of Biden's declared and undeclared GOP rivals, former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaking face to face, Biden said, "MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms."
Biden claimed his rivals intended to cut Social Security, reduce taxes "for the very wealthy," ban books, and implied his opponents would ban abortion, same-sex marriage, and increase restrictive voting requirements.
The announcement was expected, but followed months of speculation from critics and allies alike as to whether Biden, 80, would launch a reelection campaign.
Biden frequently discusses the role of his faith on issues such as labor, immigration and the environment. Biden routinely attends Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
However, Biden's positions on some issues, such as his platform supporting legal abortion, including his call to end a prohibition on taxpayer funding for abortion, and his administration's increasingly harsh actions toward migrants at the border, have come under fire from some Catholics.
In 2023, the U.S. bishops issued statements criticizing the Biden administration for expanding the use of Title 42, a pandemic-era federal public health rule permitting immigration officials at the border to block migrants seeking asylum from entry previously implemented by the Trump administration. The bishops also have pushed back on comments made by Biden appearing to indicate the bishops were not calling for a ban on the use of taxpayer funding for elective abortion, as they have called for that ban.
Kristi Hamrick, vice president of media and policy for Students for Life Action, told OSV News that Biden is "the most pro-abortion president of all time, at least in terms of his policy and personnel," and put his support for abortion "front and center in his announcement video, which should be a message to every presidential candidate."
"Abortion is a crucial issue in this election, and every candidate must be prepared to address how we bring hope and a future to all our citizens, born and preborn," Hamrick said. "Anyone running for federal office will need to have federal plans, so that Joe Biden's aggressive abortion agenda can be confronted by candidates who want to protect life in law and in service."
Stephen Schneck, a Catholic activist and retired Catholic University of America professor, who served as Biden's 2020 "National Co-Chair of Catholics for Biden," told OSV News that President Biden's 'no drama,' tested, and confident leadership," Schneck said. "Internationally and domestically, we need a steady hand at the top."
"After COVID and weekly existential crises of the years under the former president, Americans yearn for a return to normalcy," he said, saying he believed Biden would "help our nation find its way back to that normalcy."
However, most Americans don't appear eager for Biden or his presumptive GOP challenger, Trump, according to recent polls. While a rematch is likely between the two, who faced off in the 2020 election, an April NBC News poll found significant majorities of Americans did not want either Trump or Biden to run.
The same poll, however, found Trump leading the Republican primary field for the Republican nomination in 2024.
In an April 24 statement preemptively responding to Biden's announcement, Trump said Biden had "a calamitous and failed presidency," and hit him on issues including immigration and crime. Trump also repeated his unfounded claims that his previous contest against Biden was "rigged."
The claim has been rejected in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and has resulted in his allies facing ruinous defamation cases for asserting those claims as fact. On April 18, Fox News agreed to pay a $787.5 million settlement to resolve a defamation suit brought against it by Dominion Voting Systems for pushing claims of election fraud to their audience that Fox News personalities and executives internally stated were false.
"With your support in the election, we will defeat Joe Biden in 2024," Trump said. The former GOP leader claimed he would "rescue our economy," "crush inflation," stop unauthorized migration at the Southern border that he called an "invasion," restore the country's dignity, and "prevent World War III from happening," a reference to Trump's opposition to current U.S. support for Ukraine which has allowed that nation to resist Russia's full invasion since Feb. 24, 2022, and begin to liberate its territory. Trump has previously stated he "will have it (the war) solved in 24 hours" if he becomes president again.
"Together, we will all Make America Great Again," said Trump.
Trump faces a few declared candidates – Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Asa Hutchinson – but some election analysts speculate that his biggest threat is DeSantis, who is seen as a likely contender for the 2024 Republican presidential primary but has not declared his candidacy.
Trump has attempted to keep DeSantis, who is Catholic, at bay, and has cycled through pejorative nicknames for the Florida governor, such as "DeSanctus" – a nickname that appears to be a shortening of an earlier nickname "DeSanctimonious" rather than an oblique reference to the Florida governor's Catholic faith.
Should DeSantis enter the race and secure his party's nomination, the general election would become a contest between two Catholics. Up to now, no Catholic has won two terms as U.S. president, and the U.S. has not seen two back-to-back Catholic presidents.
Biden, who became on his inauguration day the oldest person to become a U.S. president, will likely once again face questions about his age and whether he is mentally and physically up for the task as he seeks a second term.
Biden, will be 81 on Election Day next year and turns 82 shortly after. Trump, who is 77 in June, will be 78 on the day of the 2024 election, the same age as Biden was for his inauguration.