Speculation continues to mount about President Biden's potential re-election bid in 2024. While Biden has reportedly confirmed he will run for a second term, eyes have shifted to other possible candidates to take up the mantle for the Democrats if the president changes his mind. This would potentially open the door for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to launch a White House bid for the third time. The democratic socialist remains highly popular among the younger generations, but he is also among the eldest candidates — older even than Biden, at 81 years old.
What are the chances that, if Biden opts out of the next campaign, an announcement could come for a Sanders 2024 run? Here's everything you need to know:
Has Sanders said anything to indicate he's running?
Given that Sanders has run for president twice before, the Vermont senator has been asked a number of times if he plans to gear up for attempt number three next year. However, Sanders has remained mostly quiet about his upcoming plans, and whether or not they include a presidential run.
Sanders told CBS Mornings in September "I haven't made that decision" when asked if he planned to run. He also told CNN over the summer that he would not primary the president if he decides to run again, adding, "If [Biden] runs again, I will support him."
Beyond these brief comments, Sanders has shied away from speaking about 2024, instead focusing on raising awareness about Democratic issues ahead of the upcoming midterms.
What challenges would a Sanders 2024 campaign face?
Sanders is one year older than Biden, who was already the oldest person to be elected president when he took office nearly two years ago. Sanders, though, would be 83 on Election Day 2024 — meaning he'd be 87 when his hypothetical first term ended in 2028.
Just as people have brought up concerns about Biden's advanced age, there would likely be similar rhetoric around Sanders if he launches a campaign. However, the octogenarian has downplayed concerns about age, telling CBS Mornings in the same interview that it was more important to look at the individual candidate than make generalizations about age.
"What I think we do is we look too much at race, at gender, at age," Sanders said during the interview. "What does somebody stand for? What are their views? Do you agree with them? Are they standing with you?"
"And obviously you want people who are competent, capable, and have the energy to be president of the United States ... I would say, first of all, take a look at what people stand for," he added.
How would the Democratic Party respond to Sanders running for president again?
The Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee have often found themselves at odds with Sanders, who is actually an independent — the longest-serving independent in Senate history — despite being a large proponent of Democratic and liberal issues.
This clash between Sanders and the DNC particularly came to the forefront in 2016, when he was in the middle of a fierce primary battle with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was eventually revealed that the DNC had criticized and derided Sanders' campaign in thousands of leaked emails. Sanders consistently claimed the committee was biased against his candidacy.
Accusations of similar derailing were also seen during Sanders' subsequent 2020 campaign, in which he at one point appeared to be the likely Democratic nominee. However, Politico reported on a potential plan by the DNC to try and weaken Sanders' surging campaign.
The DNC dismissed these accusations in 2020, but it is likely to have caused further bad blood between the committee and Sanders, particularly after what happened in 2016. Given the previous anti-Sanders sentiment, though, it is possible that the DNC would be wary of yet another Sanders campaign.
Do voters want Sanders to run?
Sanders remains popular among prospective 2024 voters from both parties. A USA Today/IPSOS poll published this past August found that 46 percent of those surveyed saw him as a favorable candidate — higher than both President Biden and former President Donald Trump.
That poll also had Sanders as the highest-rated Democrat among independent voters at 41 percent; even 18 percent of Republican voters saw him as favorable. More than two-thirds of Democrats also support the senator, with a 78 percent favorability rating.
The poll, which interviewed 2,345 voting-eligible adults and had a 2.5 percent margin of error, also found that Sanders was the most favored among a list of 23 potential candidates. This saw Sanders beating out heavyweight names such as Vice President Kamala Harris and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
So … will he run?
Many within Sanders' own circle believe he may enter the race. The senator's aides sent out a memo this past April in which they wrote, "In the event of an open 2024 Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Sanders has not ruled out another run for president." The memo also claimed Sanders was "the most popular office holder in the country right now."
Politico also noted that even with the presidential election two years away, Sanders "remains popular, is the undisputed leader of the progressive left, and … he must be part of any conversation about a potential open Democratic presidential primary."