- Some Republicans say it’s too soon to say whether they’ll back Biden again.
- Former Rep. Susan Molinari said she would endorse Biden in 2024 if he runs.
- Others say they’re waiting to see how Biden will lead or who else will be running.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Hundreds of high-profile Republicans broke party lines to endorse Joe Biden in 2020, arguing that another four years of then-President Donald Trump would harm the country.
Now that President Biden says he plans to run for reelection in 2024, Insider reached 10 of them and asked: will you endorse Biden again?
Their answers ranged from an unequivocal “yes” to several flavors of “we’ll wait and see.” Here’s what each said:
Former Rep. Susan Molinari
Molinari, who represented New York’s Staten Island in the US House during the 1990s, said her Biden endorsement in 2020 wasn’t just about her “overwhelming concerns” about Trump. She endorsed Biden in large part because he is an “exceptional human being.”
She isn’t eyeing any moderate Republicans to replace Biden, either.
“He’s obviously still early in the term but … he will still be that man of compassion and outreach and leadership in four years, so I don’t anticipate that anything will change,” Molinari, who was among four Republicans featured at the Democratic National Convention, said during a recent phone interview.
Asked whether she would endorse him in 2024, she said, “yes.”
Molinari credited Biden with assembling an “incredibly diverse cabinet,” prioritizing vaccinations and focusing on infrastructure, clean energy and building an experienced cybersecurity team.
“I can’t comment on, you know, taxes, and all those things they have to work out, but … he clearly is moving quickly, and decisively and, you know, fulfilling a lot of the promises he made during the campaign,” she said.
Biden has proven himself, despite Trump’s critiques, to be “sharp” and “decisive.” (During the campaign, Trump tried to tag Biden with the nickname “Sleepy Joe.”)
“I don’t think there’s anything that anybody could point to and say, ‘Oh, he’s just way too old to do this,'” she said.
Former Rep. Bob Inglis
Inglis, who represented South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District for six terms, is in no hurry to pick a 2024 presidential candidate.
“Way too early to talk about 2024. He’s been in office only a bit over 2 months!” Inglis told Insider in an email.
When he endorsed Biden over Trump last year, Inglis praised Biden’s empathy and ability to bring the country together.
“I want my party back, and Joe Biden is actually closer to that than Donald Trump,” he told The Post and Courier last year.
The newspaper noted he was the first GOP former member of Congress from the state to publicly back Biden.
Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman
Whitman, a lifelong Republican who also served as President George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is one of four Republicans featured at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
Reached via a spokeswoman, Whitman said it’s “far too early” to consider a 2024 endorsement for the Democratic president. But she did heap some praise on Biden.
“It’s far too early to think about an endorsement for 2024, but I have been impressed with the President’s cabinet picks and his focus on getting the economy back on track by getting control of the virus,” Whitman said in an email.
Whitman — whose father served as an advisor to Dwight Eisenhower and mother as a national committeewoman for the Republican National Committee — said in a pre-taped Democratic National Convention speech that she supported Biden because the race went far beyond political parties.
“It’s about a person, a person decent enough, stable enough, strong enough to get our economy back on track, a person who can work with everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done,” Whitman said. “Donald Trump isn’t that person. Joe Biden is.”
Former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci
Scaramucci told Insider in an email that it’s too early to support Biden in 2024.
“Let’s wait until the candidates declare,” Scaramucci said. “President Biden is doing a great job. Additionally he is saving the nation from more unnecessary death, general incompetence and hate.”
It wasn’t a huge surprise when Scaramucci announced he’d endorse Biden in 2020. Scaramucci had already become a constant Trump critic on the airwaves.
“I’m a Republican for Joe Biden. Because the president is not a Republican,” Scaramucci said in a CNN interview last year.
He also said he’d campaign for Biden should he be asked to do so.
Former Rep. Chris Shays
Will Biden run again? Shays, a House representative from Connecticut from 1987 to 2009, isn’t counting on it.
“I would be amazed if he actually runs again,” Shays told Insider. “When he said he was running, I felt he was saying that because the political operatives say you don’t want to be a lame duck.”
Shays endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in her 2016 bid against Trump before backing Biden in 2020.
He told Insider he respects and admires Biden. But if Biden were to run again, it would be a “huge mistake,” he said.
“He’s older, I don’t think he is as sharp as he was,” he said.
Shays said he wants Biden to skip the fundraising and campaigning a 2024 bid would require and focus on major things he would like to accomplish as president. Then Biden could use his “keen ability to interact with both sides of the aisle to get it done” and make sure his opponents know his success won’t be used to win re-election.
Shays said his endorsement in 2024 depends on who is running.
“My one disappointment with Joe is the foolish way he has allowed illegal immigration at our southern border to become a very real crisis,” Shays said. “His missteps have given credibility to Trump’s advocacy of a wall, and Trump’s tough stance on the flow of illegal immigration. Besides the outrageous flow of young children, a path to citizenship will not be popular and introduces a whole new set of problems.”
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele
Steele wrote in an email that endorsing Biden in 2024 is “way too premature.
“I have nothing to say at this point about what Biden or I will do in 2024,” he wrote.
In August, Steele joined other Republicans in anti-Trump super PAC The Lincoln Project to oppose the incumbent president, saying Trump focused on “stoking division and eroding our core principles.”
Steele served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 2003 to 2007. In 2009, he became the first African American to chair the Republican National Committee, serving in that role until 2011.
He said in October that, while he disagrees with Biden on “some policy points,” he believed Biden will work toward “healing the divide exacerbated by Trump and his administration,” CNN reported.
“My support for Biden is because we share an everlasting loyalty to what is ultimately best for our nation,” Steele added then.
Former Rep. Jim Walsh
Walsh, who represented the Syracuse area in Congress for 20 years, told Insider he will hold off on a 2024 endorsement until he sees what kind of president Biden will be and who will oppose him.
“I think he is off to a good start, but it’s early,” Walsh wrote in an email. “I hope he is successful because then the country is successful. Trump was a disaster for the country. Biden is a good man and we will see what kind of leader he is.”
Walsh, now a government affairs counselor for K&L Gates, told Syracuse.com in August that it wasn’t a difficult decision for him to endorse Biden in the 2020 election. He told the news outlet that Biden has “the qualities and values” to clean up Trump’s mess.
Former Rep. Tom Coleman
Coleman, who represented Missouri’s 6th District in the House from 1976 to 1993, told Insider he would “certainly” endorse Biden’s re-election bid if the president continues to lead as he has since his inauguration.
“President Biden understands how our government is supposed to work under the Constitution,” Coleman wrote in an email. “He has more experience than any modern president and knows how to govern, lead, and attract good people to his administration. His personal qualities of integrity and empathy, how he has dealt with the pandemic, his reaching out to all Americans and being honest with the public would be powerful reasons for voters to support him for re-election.”
In an August statement, Coleman announced his support for Biden in 2020, predicting he would “safeguard and secure our democracy that is under assault by his opponent and restore American leadership in the world.”
Former Rep. Jim Leach
Leach, a House member from Iowa for 30 years, isn’t saying who he’ll endorse yet in 2024.
But he’s happy with Biden’s performance so far, saying he could be a “truly great” president.
“I supported Joe Biden in 2020 because the Republican incumbent lacked integrity and competence and because the Democratic challenger had the requisite experience and judgment and, most of all an instinctive desire to unite rather than divide the country,” Leach, who left Congress in 2007, told Insider in an email. “Given the extraordinary flux within and between the two major parties and the country itself it is premature to discuss 2024.
“But if the first months of Joe Biden’s stewardship of our government is a guide, he is headed to go down as a truly great American president, a la each of the two Roosevelts, one [Teddy] being a Republican, the other [Franklin] a Democrat,” he wrote.
Steve Bartlett, former House member and Dallas mayor
Bartlett said he never endorsed a Democratic presidential candidate before the 2020 election, even though he publicly opposed Trump in 2016.
So far, Biden’s energy policies are “misguided,” and he’s “a little too aggressive on raising taxes,” said Bartlett, a House member from 1983 to 1991 before serving as Dallas’ mayor for four years.
“I’m a Republican, so he’s done some things I disagree with,” said Bartlett, now a corporate advisor.
However, Bartlett said he’s “generally pleased” with Biden’s initial performance. He credited Biden with setting the right presidential tone, delivering a “competent government,” and removing the “daily edge of the anger” present during Trump’s four years in office.
It’s too early to think about a 2024 endorsement, Bartlett said. Right now, he said he’s focused on reforming the Republican party, which he described as “broken” and held “captive by this sort of toxic fringe.”
“I’m really more interested in trying to bring some balance to the Republican party,” he said. “Endorsing Joe Biden was a last resort. It’s only when the Republicans couldn’t get out of their own way.”
— Warren Rojas contributed to this report
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