NYT columnist calls Biden SOTU speech a ‘comeback’ after saying he should not run

New York Times columnist Ezra Klein walked back his previous demands for President Biden not to run for reelection, calling his State of the Union speech a “comeback” for his electoral hopes on Sunday.

“If the Joe Biden who showed up to deliver the State of the Union address last week is the Joe Biden who shows up for the rest of the campaign, you’re not going to have any more of those weak-kneed pundits suggesting he’s not up to running for re-election,” Klein wrote, referring to himself. “Here’s hoping he does.”

Citing his age and controversial response to the Israel-Hamas war, Klein previously said Biden should step aside and let a younger Democrat lead the party’s 2024 ticket, given poor polling numbers. But after Thursday, his tune changed, with Klein encouraging the Biden campaign to double down on one of the president’s points from his State of the Union speech: “The greatest comeback story never told.”

“Biden’s refrain of the American comeback is a sharp one,” Klein wrote. “It does two things simultaneously. It reminds voters that there is something America is coming back from — namely, the dislocations of the pandemic, and the wild, erratic management style that Trump brought to it — and it lets Biden point to progress without declaring victory.”

“It’s the right message for an incumbent: There are good things happening,” he continued. “Let’s keep going.”

Democrats lauded Biden’s speech as a sharp attack against Republican policy and as a coming out for a louder, livelier President Biden shaking off previous criticisms about his age and mental well-being.

Klein emphasized that while attacks on former President Trump and the threat he poses to democracy are important and effective, campaigning on substantive policy can win him the election. That means the economy, especially prices.

The economy has outperformed expectations significantly in the last year, and the country has avoided a recession that many economists viewed as inevitable. Still, most Americans have little faith in the president on the issue, according to polls.

Klein argues that the American comeback is the key to bridging the gap between what Americans are feeling and what’s happening.

“Biden is practiced at talking about the threat that Trump poses to democracy. It’s clearly what motivates him in this campaign,” he wrote. “But he, not Trump, is the incumbent, and Biden has lacked a simple frame to tell the story of his presidency — one that balances what he’s achieved with what Americans still consider undone, and that reminds voters of what he inherited while still laying out a vision for where he’s going.”

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