The lone remaining Black candidate running for the White House in 2024 speculated about Joe Biden’s future in the race amid reported fears about the president’s age and repeated polls reflecting voters’ dissatisfaction with the country’s direction.
What did Cornel West say?
“I’m not even sure whether I’ll be running against Biden,” West said before predicting Biden would “ have an LBJ moment” – a reference to former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s decision to not seek reelection; a decision that was made just about eight months before Election Day in 1968.
West said he was “open to those possibilities” of Biden dropping out.
“He’s running out of gas,” West added about Biden.
Cornel West rejects the ‘spoiler’ label
West also rejected the notion that his candidacy would play the so-called “spoiler” role for the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
“I don’t accept the spoiler category,” West continued. “A vote for Biden, a vote for Trump is a vote for Biden and a vote for Trump.”
He later reasoned: “If you’re in a race, and you make a case, and they vote for you, how do you become the spoiler?”
West also went on to call Biden a “gangster.”
What the polling says
One poll has suggested that West, who has defended accepting campaign donations from a Republican billionaire suspected of bribing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is not the spoiler in the race. Instead, Robert F. Kennedy. Jr., is more deserving of that title, according to data from an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist national poll released in October.
“Kennedy’s presence erodes Trump’s lead among independents and cuts into his support among Republicans,” the poll found. “Trump’s loss among his base is double the loss Biden experiences among Democrats.”
Fifty-nine percent of respondents in a CBS poll released last week approved of Biden’s job performance as president. A recent Wall Street Journal poll found that 71% of Americans think the U.S. is on the wrong track. An Associated Press poll from the summer found that voters think Biden, who will be 82 on Election Day, is too old to be president.
In the most recent poll that factored West’s candidacy, Trump edged Biden by 6 percentage points (37% to 31%), with Kennedy receiving 8% support and West with 3%.
What Biden said
Biden, for his part, has been unequivocal in his adamance that he is in the presidential race to win it. Reuters reported that Biden said he believes he’s the only candidate who can beat Trump, which is his primary motivation for seeking reelection.
“If Trump wasn’t running, I’m not sure I’d be running,” Biden said at a fundraising event earlier this month. “We cannot let him win.”
Cornel West’s presidential candidacy
In October, West announced he was leaving the Green Party to launch an independent presidential bid.
“People are hungry for change. They want good policies over partisan politics. We need to break the grip of the duopoly and give power to the people,” West, 70, wrote in a social media post accompanied by a 40-second video clip. “I’m running as an Independent candidate for President of the United States to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!”
It was the second time West changed his political affiliation since declaring his presidential candidacy in June.
Back then, West said he was running “for the People’s Party to reintroduce America to the best of itself – fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all!”
Weeks later, he announced that he was switching to the Green Party, a declaration that he said at the time was in “the spirit of a broad United Front and coalition strategy.”