Longtime Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) says she will back President Joe Biden for re-election in 2024 – that is, if he decides to run.
Maloney and fellow Rep. Jerrold Nadler, both of whom are senior House Democrats first elected in 1992, caused a political stir during a WNYC/Spectrum News NY1 debate Tuesday night when neither would say Biden – their party’s standard-bearer – should seek a second term, two years from now.
But by Wednesday morning, Maloney took to Twitter to do some damage control. It came after organizations including the Republican National Committee quickly latched on to the two incumbent lawmakers’ remarks.
“I will absolutely support President Biden, if he decides to run for re-election,” Maloney tweeted from her campaign account. “Biden’s leadership securing historic investments for healthcare, climate & economic justice prove once again why he is the strong and effective leader we need right now.”
Thanks to congressional redistricting, Maloney and Nadler are locked in a hotly contested Democratic primary in New York’s newly drawn 12th district, which covers Midtown Manhattan and both the Upper East and Upper West sides.
They appeared on the debate stage Tuesday alongside challenger Suraj Patel, an attorney and organizer who worked on the Obama Administration’s advance team.
About halfway through the 90-minute debate, co-moderator Errol Louis asked the candidates whether Biden – whose poll numbers have been lagging for months – should run again in 2024.
Only Patel answered affirmatively and unequivocally, while Nadler said it wouldn’t be productive to weigh in until after the midterm elections. Maloney was more direct: “I don’t believe he’s running for re-election.”
Patel, 38, took to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday to criticize his opponents for failing to back Biden’s reelection.
“What in the heck are you thinking, giving Republican talking points and ammo, and frankly making an ageist argument against your own president,” he said. “Only one person should decide whether they want to run for president, and that is Joseph Biden.”
Patel’s comments Wednesday came after he spent much of Tuesday’s debate making the case for a new generation of leaders with fresh ideas, criticizing “1990s Democrats” for having lost “almost every major battle to Mitch McConnell and Republicans” – a clear swipe at his septuagenarian opponents.
On “Morning Joe,” Patel said his support for Biden — who is 79 years old and served in the Senate from 1973 until 2009 – isn’t at odds with his push for fresh blood in Congress.
“The president is in a different position,” said Patel, who is making his third run for office against Maloney. “He is the leader of our party. It is not on us to give Republicans talking points about whether he should run or he should not run.”
Maloney spokesman Bob Liff wasn’t impressed with Patel suggesting his opponents were being “ageist.”
“Irony is dead,” he said. “Chutzpah lives.”