Michelle Obama’s name keeps surfacing on the wish list of some Democrats as an alternative to President Biden in 2024, an aberration that conservatives say is partly driven by fear among liberals and the media that probes of Hunter Biden will turn up more damaging information about the Biden family’s finances before the election.
Polls consistently show at least half of Democratic voters don’t want Mr. Biden, at age 80 already the nation’s oldest president, to run for a second term. The level of dissatisfaction has remained high as fresh allegations emerge that he may have been involved in pay-to-play influence through his son’s foreign business deals.
Even if Mr. Biden does drop out, there’s no emerging consensus on who should replace him. Even less support exists in the party for alternatives such as California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Some anxious Democrats keep returning to the notion of Mrs. Obama, who was generally more popular among Democrats than her husband during their eight years in the White House.
She remains a favorite among Democrats, more so than Mr. Biden, as shown in a poll last month.
The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll found that Mr. Biden would easily defeat declared Democratic rivals Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson. But Mrs. Obama would have more support from Democratic voters, 48%, than Mr. Biden, 36%, if she jumped into the race, the survey found.
“Biden is pretty safe in the Democratic primary. However, he’d better make sure Michelle Obama is on his Christmas card list,” said Mike Noble, CEO of Noble Predictive Insights, which conducted the poll.
Democratic operatives Douglas Schoen and Andrew Stein called Mrs. Obama the party’s “strongest candidate by far” as an alternative to Mr. Biden, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in May.
Mrs. Obama “polls well and can replace Kamala without anyone calling it racist,” said Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk on social media. “Watch for Democrats to start quietly pushing Michelle Obama more and more as a ‘unifying force’ for the party against [former President Donald] Trump.”
Conservative podcaster Dan Bongino said the buzz about Mrs. Obama is no accident. He said it reflects concern on the left that House GOP investigators, who have already turned up evidence of Hunter Biden and associates receiving about $20 million from foreign oligarchs while Joe Biden was vice president, will uncover more information that harms the president before the election.
“This is the media’s recruitment effort,” Mr. Bongino said on a recent show. “They’re sending out smoke signals basically to the Obama family. They know Sleepy Joe is in big trouble. They are definitely afraid that the bank records transactions are going to show millions of dollars lining the pockets of the Biden family, and they’re not sure what else is out there. The unknown scares them right now.”
Many Democrats can’t shake the belief that Mr. Biden is just too old and frail for the job. A Democratic voter in Maryland, a Black professional woman who wouldn’t give her name, told The Washington Times that she prefers Mrs. Obama far and away over Mr. Biden.
“It’s the age thing,” she said, adding that Mrs. Obama’s role as a mother appeals to her.
The former first lady has not expressed interest in running for office, and her representatives did not reply to requests for comment.
In 2016, when she was still first lady, Mrs. Obama told Oprah Winfrey that she would not consider running.
“If I was interested in it, I would say. I don’t believe in playing games,” she said at the time. She said eight years in the White House was enough, and she did not want to force her children to be faced with more sacrifices.
“This is hard; it’s a hard job,” she said. “When you run, your kids’ lives stop,” she said. “And it’s not for us to complain about it, so you don’t hear complaints, but it is a truth, an actuality, that there is a weight to it”.
Hollywood film director Joel Gilbert is among those who believe Mrs. Obama has positioned herself well to become the Democrats’ candidate. He notes that she wrote two popular books about her life in 2018 and 2022, both of which were featured as films on Netflix.
“Conservatives failed to notice that Michelle was selling out arenas around the country, ostensibly to promote these books, but in reality to solidify her political ambitions,” Mr. Gilbert wrote for the American Thinker. “Michelle now aggressively runs ‘When We All Vote,’ a Soros-funded project designed to showcase Michelle’s leadership and remind voters of her solid skills at reciting Democrat talking points.
“The showcasing has worked,” he wrote. “Michelle Obama is a genuine pop culture phenomenon. Like Oprah or Madonna, she scarcely needs her last name anymore. She has almost 100 million followers on social media — 22 million on Twitter, 55 million on Instagram and 19 million on Facebook. With 15 years of positive media coverage, hundreds of magazine covers, and talk show appearances, Michelle is arguably the most popular person in the country, if not the world.”
Mr. Kirk said it won’t matter to most Democrats that Mrs. Obama has never held elected office.
“Is Michelle remotely qualified or capable of being president? The answer to that for Democrats is ‘who cares?’” Mr. Kirk posted on social media. “For them, Biden is the ultimate proof of the concept they can get the world to accept any warm (or cold) body as ‘President of the United States.’”
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