Major media outlet envisions variety of 'Plan B' scenarios for Democrats to replace Biden as the 2024 nominee

 February 13, 2024

There have been persistent rumors for some time that, despite his ongoing re-election campaign, President Joe Biden will, for one reason or another, ultimately not be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee in November's general election.

Such speculation has largely been dismissed or ignored by the mainstream media and punditry, at least until now, as supposition has boiled over about a possible "Plan B" for Democrats to replace Biden as the nominee before the election, according to a surprisingly frank Politico report.

The undeniable underlying motivation for the now apparent consideration of a Biden replacement strategy is the mounting concerns over the incumbent's advanced age and declining mental and physical health that have become more evident with nearly every passing day.

Bad news for Biden continues to pile up

Politico observed that "Democrats have vigorously avoided any discussion of a Plan B for their presidential nominee," but may have now had their hands forced in that regard by events outside of their direct control.

That includes a recent damning report from Special Counsel Robert Hur, which found that Biden had "willfully" retained without authorization various classified documents from his tenure as a senator and vice president, but declined to pursue criminal charges due to Biden's "elderly" stature along with his "diminished" and "faulty memory" that could result in a "sympathetic" jury declining to convict him.

Coinciding with that report was yet another equally discouraging public poll for Democrats, this time from NBC News, which found that nearly 9 in 10 Americans harbor some level of "concerns" about Biden's mental and physical health as he seeks another four-year term in office.

Biden could voluntarily step aside before or during convention, help choose his successor

To be sure, Politico reported that, in terms of a Democratic "contingency plan" for replacing President Biden, "it would not be easy to simply swap him out" and that the "likeliest outcome is that Biden stays on the ticket," but nonetheless put forward a few possible scenarios on how that could be accomplished.

The first such scenario involved "a path that enables him to leave with dignity and on his terms," in which Biden would voluntarily demur on the party's nomination during the period between the end of the primary election cycle in June but before the Democratic nominating convention in August.

Citing voter concerns about his age and health, as well as his prior vow to serve as "a bridge to a future generation of Democratic leaders," Biden could proclaim that he had fulfilled his duties and was stepping aside for some as-yet-unannounced successor to take his place, or simply open up the field for a last-minute battle between multiple possible successors ahead of the convention.

A second scenario outlined by Politico involved President Biden remaining as a candidate until the convention and, if not pushed aside before that, taking on the role of "kingmaker" to pick his successor as the nominee -- which may or may not be Vice President Kamala Harris, a possibility that was described as the "thorniest issue" that would need to be dealt with, for a variety of reasons.

Setting aside VP Harris, both of those scenarios included other potential presidential candidates stepping up to replace Biden at the convention, and some of the names proffered by Politico included Democratic governors like California's Gavin Newsom, Illinois' J.B. Pritzker, and Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer, though other prominent figures could also throw their hats in the ring to take Biden's place on the presidential ticket.

Replaced after the convention but before the election

A third scenario in the Politico article, and arguably the most unlikely, would involve President Biden accepting the nomination at the convention but then, before the election, be deemed "unable to compete" in November, perhaps for reasons such as "death, resignation, or disability," per the Democratic Party's rules.

At that point, DNC chair Jaime Harrison would get together with leading Democrats in Congress and governors to decide on a replacement nominee, though such a scenario "would pose a logistical nightmare for the states" in terms of already printed and mailed-out ballots that featured Biden's name as the Democratic nominee, not to mention cause confusion for uninformed voters and almost certainly spark multiple legal challenges.

In the end, it seems most likely that Biden will continue to be the Democratic nominee, but if his increasingly obvious physical and mental health decline grows substantially worse, or if he continues to trail former President Donald Trump in the various polls, Democrats may be forced to fall back on a "Plan B" if they hope to win the election, regardless of all of the trouble that such a late switch would entail.

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