Given President Joe Biden's advanced age and seemingly declining cognitive health, to say nothing of his low approval ratings and growing unpopularity, it is a very real possibility that he may not run for a second term in the White House in 2024.
In the event that Biden doesn't run for re-election in the next presidential cycle, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said his boss will give a "hard look" at mounting another presidential campaign of his own, the Tampa Free Press reported.
Sanders, the openly declared democratic socialist from Vermont, has already twice sought the Democratic Party's nomination in 2016 and 2020, but, despite ample popular support from progressives, fell short both times after the party apparatus and political establishment coalesced behind Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, respectively.
In a recent interview with CBS News, Faiz Shakir, a longtime adviser to Sen. Sanders, discussed the possibility of the independent senator from Vermont giving consideration to another bid for the White House if President Biden was not already in the mix.
"I assume that he would give it a hard look," Shakir said of a prospective Sanders 2024 campaign. "I don't want to make the judgment for him. Obviously, it would be his choice to make. But I assume that he would want to reevaluate it."
The adviser acknowledged the fact that the senator is roughly the same age as the president and said that Sanders is "very aware that he's older now and he'd have to make a real judgment about his own vigor and his stamina and his desire and hunger and passion to do this a third time."
"But if it were an open field? Yeah, I'm confident he would take another look at it and say, 'Do I want to do this or not?'" he added.
CBS News noted that Biden has repeatedly suggested that he intends to seek re-election in 2024, though he has also often added various caveats to such statements and there has been nothing said or done officially yet with regard to another campaign -- hence, the growing speculation that he actually may not run again.
However, Shakir told the outlet, "Personally, I take President Biden at his word and our orbit takes him at his word that he's taking it seriously and presume that he is leaning toward yes."
If President Biden does decide to run for another term, it seems rather unlikely that he would face any serious primary challenge to his re-nomination by Democrats.
That said, if he doesn't run and the Democratic Party instead has an open field of candidates fighting to be picked as Biden's replacement, Sen. Sanders would immediately have to be considered as being among the top few contenders for that honor.
According to FiveThirtyEight's analysis of the latest polls in that regard, Sanders routinely ranks second or third in the field in the absence of Biden, typically trailing only Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg as top prospects for the party's nomination.
Unfortunately for Sanders, and despite the fact that Democrats have adopted many of his preferred progressive policies as their own, not to mention his solid base of support among the party's voters, the senator is still viewed as being too far-left by the party establishment and would almost certainly face the same concerted headwinds to his being the nominee as he did in 2016 and 2020.
Of course, all of this talk could ultimately be a moot point, as Biden could soon formally declare that he will run again, and it is also quite possible that Sanders himself may rule out another run regardless of what Biden decides to do.