US election 2024: will Joe Biden drop out and who could replace him?

The political destiny of President Joe Biden is even less certain now as he's off the campaign trial following his third Covid diagnosis.

It has been reported that Barack Obama, the former president, is now tuning in.

According to reports, Obama has advised allies that Biden ought to give his candidature some serious thought.

Obama thinks that Biden's odds of defeating Donald Trump are dwindling, as reported by the Associated Press and the Washington Post.According to The Post, several sources have revealed that Obama, who had previously backed Mr Biden wholeheartedly, has modified his opinion.

While on Thursday night (July 18), Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president and went into great detail about his attempted assassination.

He said: “If I had not moved my head at that very last instant, the assassin's bullet would have perfectly hit its mark. And I would not be here tonight. We would not be together."

Along with saying "we must not criminalise dissent or demonise political disagreement", Trump also made the false claim that Democrats had cheated during the 2020 election, which he lost, despite numerous federal and state investigations demonstrating there was no systematic fraud. He has long called for the prosecution of his rivals.

Mr Biden has continued to resist calls to step aside in the presidential race despite growing concern.

The 81-year-old US president, who’s almost two decades older than the country’s average retirement age, has had his mental capacity called into question after a number of embarrassing public gaffes.

Should he remain in power after the November election, he could potentially be the Western world’s most powerful man until the ripe old age of 86.

For months, Democrats have tried to downplay concerns that Mr Biden may not be fit for office in the upcoming election as he goes head-to-head with Mr Trump.

However, Mr Biden’s senior moments have been impossible to hide amid recent public speeches. First, he faced intense criticism following the presidential debate in June which saw him give shaky answers and lose his train of thought on multiple occasions.

Despite a growing number of Democrats encouraging him to step aside, Biden maintained that it was simply a bad night for him. However, more blunders would follow.

During the recent Nato summit, Biden introduced Ukrainian president Mr Zelensky as “President Putin” and also referred to Vice President Kamala Harris as “Vice President Trump.”

Stars such as George Clooney have also recently come out and publicly urged Biden to step aside, allowing the Democrats to nominate a younger candidate.

Despite speculation about his future, other leaders, including Sir Keir Starmer and Bernie Sanders, have seemingly thrown their backing behind Biden.

Media attention has recently shifted to the assassination attempt on Trump’s life, with some suggesting that the near-deadly incident may have helped him win the upcoming election.

As the days edge closer to the November election, here’s everything you need to know about the Biden age debate and who could replace him.

US President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, on June 28 (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Raleigh, North Carolina, on June 28 (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Why do some people say Joe Biden should step down?

Mr Biden “had only one job” in the debate, the Standard’s Jack Kessler wrote.

“[This was] to demonstrate to the American people, particularly those living in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona, that he is not too old to be president.

“He couldn’t do it,” he said.

After his head-to-head with Mr Trump, CNN asked viewers who had won and 67 per cent said it was the Republican nominee, while 33 per cent backed the incumbent Democrat.

At one point, Mr Biden’s voice trailed when speaking about Trump’s economic record. He finished his remarks by making the seemingly irrelevant comment: “We finally beat Medicare.”

The performance was so alarming that US polls are now in favour of Trump despite the former president’s criminal conviction. 

Latest polling suggests that voters feel Mr Biden is too old and should not run. Even 51 per cent of Democrat voters said a new candidate should be found.

Mr Biden is already the oldest ever president, having taken the record from Ronald Reagan — who lasted until age 77. Trump is already third on the list and, would claim the unwanted title if he becomes president again.

As AP reported of Mr Biden: “He is often sharp and focused. But he also has moments, particularly later in the evening, when his thoughts seem jumbled and he trails off mid-sentence or seems confused. Sometimes he doesn’t grasp the finer points of policy details. He occasionally forgets people’s names, stares blankly and moves slowly around the room.”

While such moments are common for someone his age, it is not a good look for a man attempting to become the most powerful in the world.

Other rumours may have exacerbated concern, including reports that a Parkinson’s expert visited the White House eight times within the last eight months.

Joe Biden turns 82 this year (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden turns 82 this year (Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

Will Joe Biden step down?

Mr Biden has insisted he will not step down.

“We understand the concerns. We get it,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week. But she emphasised Mr Biden has no intention of stepping away from the campaign. “The president is clear-eyed and he is staying in the race.”

Mr Biden’s doctor Dr Kevin O’Connor said in February that the president was “fit for duty”.

Dr O'Connor said Mr Biden was adjusting well to a new device that helps control his sleep apnoea. He said he had experienced some hip discomfort but also works out five times per week.

However, Mr Trump is confident he has the upper hand on his embattled rival.

“I kicked that old broken-down piece of crap,” the former president boasted on July 3.

He then made an unsubstantiated claim, while out on a golf course, that Mr Biden had “quit the race” and that the Democrats would instead put forward Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I think she’s gonna be better,” he said. “She’s so bad. She’s pathetic. She’s so fxxxxxx bad.”

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden (Matt Kelley / AP)
Kamala Harris and Joe Biden (Matt Kelley / AP)

Who could replace Joe Biden?

For clarification, any names are purely speculative given Mr Biden’s apparent desire to stay in the job.

The Democratic Party will officially choose him as its presidential candidate at its convention on August 19, all being well.

If Mr Biden stands down voluntarily before then, it would spark a snap party contest to replace him. Alternatively, the LA Times suggested that, though unlikely, Biden could also be forced out under the 25th Amendment.

However, here are some of the frontrunners in a hypothetical leadership contest:

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, the US vice president (Megan Varner / Reuters)
Kamala Harris, the US vice president (Megan Varner / Reuters)

Kamala Harris would take over as president should her boss quit – but that would not mean she would be automatically in the frame to fight for the election.

Her experience might make her an obvious candidate but her poll ratings count against her.

Gavin Newsom

California governor Gavin Newsom (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
California governor Gavin Newsom (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

The governor of California is coming to the end of his second, and final, term in office and is said to be eyeing up the top job.

However, the 57-year-old has also performed poorly in polls and projections say he would lose a run-off against Trump.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is the former US first lady (NAACP via Getty Images)
Michelle Obama is the former US first lady (NAACP via Getty Images)

The former first lady has a large personal brand and big-name recognition but has limited political experience.

She has steered clear of backing Mr Biden in the election run-up over an alleged feud about how the president’s family handled Hunter Biden’s split with her friend Kathleen Buhle.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll suggested that Michelle Obama could stand a good chance of actually beating Trump if she were to run. However, she has maintained she has no intentions to run at the moment.

Other potentials

Gretchen Whitmer is a rising star in the party and governor of Michigan while Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania governor, is also reportedly in the frame.

Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman, was once touted as a future president but has lost his last three election votes.

Long shots include Robert Kennedy Jr, Hillary Clinton, and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.