Biden says he plans to run again, to make it final in early 2023

U.S. President Biden attends a rally with Democratic nominee for Maryland Governor Moore, Senator Van Hollen and other Maryland Democrats, in Bowie

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he intends to run for re-election and would likely make a final decision by early next year, after declaring the results of Tuesday's midterm elections good for democracy.

White House officials expressed a sense of vindication that Biden's fellow Democrats did better than expected.

Biden, who turns 80 this month, has faced questions on whether he will seek a second term. A Biden adviser said preparatory discussions for a 2024 campaign were under way.

"Our intention is to run again, that's been our intention," Biden told reporters at the White House, his wife Jill sitting nearby. "This is ultimately a family decision."

Biden said his family wanted him to run and he did not feel rushed to make a final decision. He said he would do so unrelated to any announcement from his 2020 rival, Republican former President Donald Trump, who is expected to run as well.

Biden has spent his first two years in office warning against threats to democracy after Trump's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and did not accept Biden's legitimate victory.

He underscored those arguments in the final days of the midterm elections.

When asked how other world leaders should view this moment for America, with Trump potentially running again, Biden said the answer was to make sure Trump never returned to power.

“We just have to demonstrate that he will not take power if he does run, making sure he - under legitimate efforts of our Constitution - does not become the next president again,” Biden said.

Trump has criticized Biden's policies sharply and has said he will make an announcement about his plans next week.

About a potential competition between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for the Republican nomination, Biden said it would be "fun watching them take on each other."

Biden, in a jovial mood, parlayed with reporters for nearly an hour in the White House State Dining Room and talked about an array of issues including billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk's ties with other countries.

He gently chided reporters for predicting, based on opinion polls, bigger losses for his Democrats.

Republicans made modest gains in Tuesday's elections and are likely to take control of the House of Representatives, but control of the Senate hinges on three races that remained too close to call late on Wednesday. A so-called "red wave" or large Republican takeover did not occur. [L1N3250I7]

"It was a good day, I think, for democracy," Biden said.

He acknowledged that the results showed Americans were frustrated, however. Inflation was a big topic for voters.

Biden focused his campaign pitch largely on preventing threats to U.S. democracy, securing abortion rights and extolling his economic policies.

Republicans are expected to try to undo some of those policies and prevent him from achieving further goals.

Biden said he was prepared to work with Republicans.

"The American people have made clear, I think, that they expect Republicans to be prepared to work with me as well,” he said.

Biden said he would veto efforts to pass a national ban on abortion and opposed tax cuts for the wealthy, two policy proposals Republicans may pursue.

He said he was going to speak to House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy later on Wednesday and, when Biden returns from a trip to Asia, would invite Democratic and Republican leaders to the White House to discuss priorities going forward.

The White House has prepared for a host of investigations that may come from a Republican-controlled House, including over his son Hunter's business dealings. Biden said the American people would look at such probes for what he said they were - "almost comedy" - but said he could not control what they did.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Nandita Bose, Andrea Shalal and Heather Timmons; Editing by Deepa Babington and Howard Goller)