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Aides to President Joe Biden say a detailed timeline for announcing a re-election bid has not been finalized, but they have agreed on at least one benchmark: He will not launch a 2024 campaign before delivering his State of the Union Address on next month, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

“We want him to be a president in the State of the Union, not a candidate,” one of the sources said.

There was some discussion among Biden aides about an earlier announcement, but the idea has since died down while they still await the president’s final decision. And now Biden’s aides insist the special counsel’s new investigation will not affect any of his 2024 plans.

“The president is making good on his promise to respect the independence of the Justice Department and divorce it from politics,” Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement.

The advisers scoffed not only at the idea that the investigation of classified documents would boost the president’s decision-making process; they also insist it will not be a key issue for voters in November 2024. Instead, the White House hopes to refocus on its battles with congressional Republicans over policy issues, such as measures restricting abortion access and a proposed national sales tax. where they see a political advantage.

Biden’s own health and that of the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, who recently underwent surgery to treat skin cancer, is one last unspoken variable that could affect the timeline. The White House promised that Biden would soon undergo a second full physical evaluation as president, with a detailed reading to follow from her doctor.

The team planning Biden’s next policy moves has long eyed this year’s State of the Union address, scheduled for February 7, as a key moment in which his 2024 decision could be revealed. Despite months of planning, Biden aides have yet to settle on a specific implementation plan, the sources familiar with the discussions said.

The pressure on the president to give a final, definitive answer about his intentions on the kind of fast-track timeline aides had once floated was greatly reduced by the better-than-expected performance of Democrats in the midterm elections. of period.

One of the president’s closest aides noted that a campaign launch is not a one-day event, but potentially a week-long series of events. So attendees want to make sure the ad window is as free of political minefields as possible.

An unresolved announcement schedule is not new to Bidenworld veterans. Then-Vice President Biden waited until late October 2015, after the first Democratic primary debate, to announce that he would not run in the 2016 race. In 2019, he waited until almost May to enter the crowded Democratic field.

«I’ll believe he’s running or not when I see him say it on TV,» joked one of the president’s closest aides.