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Pulling A James K. Polk? Rumors Abound Within Biden Campaign That He’d Serve Only One Term

If Joe Biden becomes the nominee for the Democratic Party, many will question whether his age will be a problem. Indeed, if Biden won, defeating incumbent President Donald Trump next fall, he’d become the country’s first president over the age of 80.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

A second term in office would bring the candidate’s age to 82, at his supposed second inauguration — and 86 by the time he served out a full eight years in office.

Aware of the concerns by some about his age, top advisers in the Biden campaign and Democratic strategists are positing the idea that Biden make a pledge to the American people that he only serves out one term in office. It’s an idea that Biden reportedly is playing around with in his own mind, too, according to Politico.

Four separate sources spoke to the publication about the possibility of Biden making a “one-term” pledge, stating that Biden is receptive to the idea of being a “transition figure.”

“I’d love to have an election this year for the next generation of leaders, but if I have to wait four years [in order to] to get rid of Trump, I’m willing to do it,” said one adviser, echoing an idea that may resonate with many Americans.

Another said that his pledge may not be a promise in the traditional sense: instead, Biden may insinuate it’s his goal to only serve out one term, without overtly saying it. It’s unknown what will happen in the world of politics within four years, after all.

“He’s going into this thinking, ‘I want to find a running mate I can turn things over to after four years but if that’s not possible or doesn’t happen then I’ll run for re-election.’ But he’s not going to publicly make a one term pledge,” that adviser said.

It’s not an idea that’s actually new to Biden: in 2015, as he was considering a run for president in 2016, rumors were swirling that the former vice president, if he ran, would make a similar pledge to only serve out one term, the Washington Post reported then. Biden ultimately opted not to run for the presidency at all, once Hillary Clinton threw her hat into the ring.

Three presidents have made such one-term pledges, and successfully did not run for a second term. Rutherford B. Hayes and James K. Polk both served out one full, four-year term after promising to do so on their respective campaigns. William Henry Harrison made a similar promise when he ran and won the presidency, but died just one month after taking the oath of office.



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