White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is dodging questions about President Biden reportedly telling the Rev. Al Sharpton that he intends to seek reelection in 2024.
Mr. Biden has given indications that he plans to run for reelection but chatter has been growing that the 79-year-old commander in chief is ready to pass the torch.
The president is said to have privately disclosed his intent to run again in a private conversation with Mr. Sharpton during a White House meeting with civil rights leaders on Sept. 2.
NBC News, which first reported details of the conversation on Monday, cited an official of Mr. Sharpton’s National Action Network who “recounted Sharpton’s description” of the encounter.
“If Al Sharpton said it, it’s you know …” Ms. Jean-Pierre said with a laugh when asked to confirm the report. “Here’s what I can say, and the president has said this himself: he intends to run in 2024.”
The statement falls well short, however, of the unequivocal pledge Mr. Biden is said to have made to Mr. Sharpton.
“I’m going to do it again,” Mr. Biden reportedly told Mr. Sharpton.
Democrats, particularly in the party’s progressive wing, have been skeptical of his reelection prospects amid his low poll numbers and a national mood soured by persistent inflation and skyrocketing crime.
Mr. Biden has shied away from stating publicly whether he will run for a second term. He told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in mid-September, just weeks after the reported conversation with Mr. Sharpton, that it was still too early to say for sure whether he would run.
“Look, my intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again,” Mr. Biden said. “But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”
When reporters asked Ms. Jean-Pierre to confirm the president’s conversation with Mr. Sharpton, she claimed she couldn’t answer because of the Hatch Act, which limits political campaign activity by federal employees.
“I cannot speak to elections from here,” she said at the podium in the White House press room. “But I will just reiterate what the president has said many times, what I have said many times, is that the president intends to run.”