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Pelosi throws down gauntlet for aging leaders

Thought Leader: Josh Kraushaar
November 21, 2022
Source: Axios
Written by: Josh Kraushaar

Like a seasoned CEO, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) handled her party’s succession plan seamlessly — anointing a new generation of Democratic talent at a moment other aging leaders are reluctant to give up power.

Why it matters: President Biden’s 80th birthday on Sunday was a fresh reminder that Democrats do not have anything close to a coherent plan for their presidential hopes.

Driving the news: The percentage of Democratic voters who believe Biden should be the nominee in 2024 ticked up six points after the party’s strong showing in the midterms — but 50% still believe he should be replaced, according to a new USA Today/Ipsos poll.

The big picture: Unlike the House Democratic caucus, which had a popular trio of leaders ready to replace Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the field of potential Biden successors is wide open.

Yes, but: Biden may learn the wrong lessons from his party’s overperformance. If he runs for re-election, he may not end up facing Trump — but a younger conservative like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who matches up much more favorably.

The other side: Trump has boxed out a new generation of GOP leaders not just by announcing a third presidential bid, but by publicly attacking two of his party’s rising stars on social media — DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The bottom line: Heading off the prospect of a messy civil war in an open Democratic primary — much like the one currently roiling the GOP — may be the best argument for Biden to run again.

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