Having written plenty about people’s decisions on whether to run for office over the years, I’ve landed on a couple rules for parsing their answers:

  • When someone says something in the present tense — i.e., “I’m not running” — there is often a reason for that. It might be strictly true in that moment, but that doesn’t mean it will hold later on.
  • If you’re going to run for reelection, you generally just say that. Saying “I plan to” or adding some qualifiers suggests that eventuality is in doubt.

Which brings us to President Biden. Already the oldest president in history at 79, there have long been questions about whether his presidency might be a one-term proposition. And the choices of words from the White House and his allies invite the kind of parsing described above.

“He’s running, I expect to support him and help him get reelected,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the New York Times recently. “I’m sticking with that story.”

Added North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D): “I fully expect him to seek reelection, and I will support him.”

When Vice President Harris raised some eyebrows this week by telling the Wall Street Journal that she and Biden hadn’t discussedrunning again, a White House spokeswoman was asked about it and said, “He is planning to run for reelection in 2024.” Biden and the White House have previously stated it’s his “expectation” or his “full intention” to run….

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