Cornel West Predicts Biden Will Have 'LBJ Moment' and Not Run for Re-Election

Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

 Left-wing academic and independent presidential candidate Cornel West has predicted that Joe Biden will have an "LBJ moment" and choose not to run for re-election next year.

"I’m not even sure whether I’ll be running against Biden," West told Politico. "Biden – I think he’s going to have an LBJ moment [and] pull back."

West was referring to the moment on March 31, 1968, when Lyndon B Johnson, who had been in office since the assassination of John F Kennedy in November 1963, announced that he would not seek re-election. Johnson cited the war in Vietnam and divisions at home. Health was also a factor, as mentioned by his former secretary George Christian. Johnson, aged 59 at the time, had suffered a heart attack 13 years before and later had a fatal heart attack five years later.

At 81, Joe Biden is already the oldest president ever sworn in and would be 86 at the end of a second term. Polls indicate clear majorities expressing concerns about his age. Cornel West suggested to Politico that he might end up running against a "B team" of younger Democrats, including Gavin Newsom, governor of California, and Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, as he believes Biden is "running out of gas." Notably, West did not mention Kamala Harris, Biden's vice-president.

At 70, Cornel West is seven years younger than the most likely Republican candidate, former president and controversial figure Donald Trump, who is 91 times a criminal indictee and an adjudicated rapist.

Cornel West described Trump as a "bona fide gangster, neo-fascist Pied Piper leading the country for a second civil war." On the other hand, he characterized Biden as "a milquetoast neoliberal with military adventurism, possibly leading the world toward World War Three."

"I’m more concerned about Trump domestically," West said. "I’m more concerned about Biden in terms of foreign policy."

The Biden campaign did not provide a comment. A Trump spokesperson misspelled West’s name (“Cornell”) and suggested he "go back to liberal academia instead of playing pretend politics. He still hasn’t graduated from the kids table."

West does not perform as strongly in polling as another independent seen as a potential spoiler in favor of Trump, the attorney and campaigner Robert F Kennedy Jr.

Cornel West told Politico, “I don’t accept the spoiler category. A vote for Biden, a vote for Trump is a vote for Biden and a vote for Trump.

“There might be slices of people [who say], ‘If I didn’t vote for West, I would have voted for Biden.’ But that’s not to me a spoiler. If you’re in a race, and you make a case, and they vote for you, how do you become the spoiler?”

Polling indicates Biden’s weakness against all Republican candidates. West said he campaigned for Biden in 2020 but did not vote for him.

“When I got in there,” he said, “I don’t know if it was the Holy Ghost [but] something hit me: I said, ‘Naw, I can’t vote for this gangster.’”

Cornel West was associated with the People’s Party and the Green Party before becoming an independent. He expressed his aim of reaching the 38% who don't vote at all and young people increasingly grappling with various forms of cynicism.

Polling indicates declining support for Biden among Black voters. West remarked, “If you are concerned, primarily and solely, with your president being married only one time, I’m not the one for you. And I’m certainly not the Black man for you.

“But if you’re looking at somebody who has a record that encompasses a whole host of things, politically, intellectually, over time and space, alongside my personal life then I might in fact, be somebody you consider very seriously.”