WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden told the Rev. Al Sharpton that he will seek a second term in a private conversation at the White House last month, Sharpton informed his National Action Network staff in Washington later that day.
“I’m going to do it again,” Biden said as he posed for a photograph in the Roosevelt Room with Sharpton, who is also an MSNBC host, according to an official of Sharpton’s National Action Network who recounted Sharpton’s description. “I’m going.”
While Biden allies have said he will seek re-election, he has shied away from declaring it unequivocally, at least in part to avoid triggering campaign finance reporting laws. His remarks to Sharpton at the tail end of a meeting with the leaders of several of the country’s most prominent civil rights organizations represent a stronger assertion that he will be on the ballot again.
NBC News has asked the White House for comment on Biden’s intentions.
In 2020, Black voters were the key to Biden’s comeback in the Democratic primaries, helping him win the pivotal South Carolina contest after he failed to take first place in the first three races in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Three days later, Biden’s overwhelming support among Black voters propelled him to an insurmountable delegate lead on Super Tuesday.
It was in the context of his 2020 race that Biden confided in Sharpton at the Sept. 2 White House meeting. During a group conversation, Sharpton reminded Biden that the two had sat down in January 2019 on the sidelines of an event commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. At the time, Biden had not yet declared his candidacy and was seeking Sharpton’s endorsement — or at least a pledge of neutrality — in a field that would include now-Vice President Kamala Harris and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., both of whom are Black.