Biden's hometown skeptical of re-election bid

March 23, 2023

Scranton, Pennsylvania has played an important role in Joe Biden's personal mythology, but the president's hometown isn't sure how they feel about Biden running for a second term.

Residents of the town were far from enthusiastic about Biden 2024 in interviews with Reuters. 

“I worry about his age and his health," said Jenn Saunders, 57, a Biden voter and coffee shop owner.

Biden, 80, is the oldest president in American history and would be 86 at the end of a second term.

Scranton not sure about Biden

Biden's ambitions have been buoyed by at least two factors: his party's better than expected results in last November's elections, which quieted already hushed whispers about his viability, and a lack of alternatives.

A manager of a local diner in Scranton expressed exasperation with the apparent lack of decent options.

"I think it's kind of what he's supposed to do, run again, right? That's really what he’s supposed to do. Is there a president that didn't go for a second run at all? But who else is there?” Kimberly Smith, 45, said. “We just need someone fresh.”

Despite his unpopularity and concerns about his age, Biden is expected to launch a re-election bid with the enthusiastic backing of the party machine, if not the party's voters.

The electorate will probably be hearing a lot more about Biden's Scranton roots as he looks to win back white-working class voters in the Rust Belt who embraced Donald Trump in 2016.

Working class hero?

Biden hinted at the direction of his campaign in his State of the Union address, where he downplayed "woke" themes and spoke as an advocate for "forgotten" Americans in the heartland.

Rust Belt towns like Scranton went into decline as manufacturing jobs fled to China during the decades Biden, who is now a wealthy millionaire, spent in Washington as a senator from Delaware.

Scranton is but a distant memory for the first octogenarian president in American history, a man known to many as "the big guy" for enriching his family with sleazy influence peddling schemes in China, but Biden continues to point to the town to evoke a working-class image.

Biden's shtick hasn't persuaded residents like black activist Glyn Johns, 29, who say Biden has done little to help the town.

“I still think there should be more than street names that are changed and highways that are renamed for you. Because those highways still have potholes. People that are on Biden Street are still struggling with their businesses,” she said.

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