December 11, 2023

Hillary Clinton warned President Joe Biden in a private meeting that he needed to take the threat of a third-party challenger seriously, as he faces all-time high disapproval ratings and sits behind former President Donald Trump in some surveys.

NBC News reported Monday that Clinton gave the president the warning while she was at the White House for the Praemium Imperiale Laureate ceremony alongside first lady Jill Biden earlier this month. 

Clinton saw her own White House dreams dashed when she lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump – with a number of Clinton’s allies labeling Green Party nominee Jill Stein a spoiler. 

Now Biden faces potential spoilers from both his political left and right – with Cornel West, a former supporter of progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders, coming after votes from Biden’s left flank and the group No Labels hoping to get a moderate on the general election ballot. 

‘It’s pretty f***ing concerning,’ a source familiar with the White House’s discussions on the matter told NBC.  

Hillary Clinton warned President Joe Biden in a private pull-aside while she was at the White House earlier this month for the Praemium Imperiale Laureate ceremony that he needed to take third-party challengers seriously 

President Joe Biden is photographed leaving chuch Saturday. He faces potential spoilers from both his political left and right - with Cornel West coming after votes from Biden's left flank and the group No Labels hoping to get a moderate on the ballot

President Joe Biden is photographed leaving chuch Saturday. He faces potential spoilers from both his political left and right – with Cornel West coming after votes from Biden’s left flank and the group No Labels hoping to get a moderate on the ballot

Polling bears out those concerns. 

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday, Biden is down by ten points against Trump, 42 percent to Trump’s 52 percent, in a two-way race, among registered voters.

NBC’s News national poll has better news for Biden – sort of. 

He’s tied at 46 percent support with Trump when it’s just two of them on the ballot. 

But this survey shows the damage a third-party candidate could do. 

When third-party options are included, Biden loses to Trump 36 percent to 39 percent. 

In that scenario a libertarian candidate would take 5 percent of the electorate, a No Labels candidate would siphon away 5 percent and a Green Party candidate would get the support of 4 percent, the poll found. 

Pollsters didn’t use West’s name when asking respondents about a Green Party pick.

In an interview with The Atlantic in July, West denied he was poised to become a spoiler. 

‘I would say that most of the people who vote for me would not have voted for Biden,’ he said. ‘They would have probably stayed home.’

Cornel West (right) campaigns for Sen. Bernie Sanders (left) at a New Hampshire rally in February 2020 when Sanders was running against now President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary. Now West is taking on Biden as a third-party candidate

Cornel West (right) campaigns for Sen. Bernie Sanders (left) at a New Hampshire rally in February 2020 when Sanders was running against now President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary. Now West is taking on Biden as a third-party candidate 

Another point of concern for Bidenworld is that polling shows the Democratic electorate is thirsty for choices going into 2024. 

The ABC News poll found that 62 percent of Democratic leaning voters want a candidate other than Biden to run. 

The NBC News poll found that 59 percent of Democratic primary voters want someone to challenge Biden in a Democratic primary next year. 

Just 36 percent said they wanted Biden, 80, left unchallenged. 

By comparison, prior to the 2020 election, only 37 percent of Republican primary voters wanted to see Trump challenged, while 59 percent of GOP primary voters were satisifed with him as the party’s pick. 

Biden has attracted two challengers – but neither have previous government experience. 

Marianne Williamson, the self-help guru, is running as a Democrat, as is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose prominent vaccine skepticism has made him more popular on the political right than with mainstream Democratic voters. 

Polling shows the president leading Kennedy by about 50 points and Williamson by 60. 

That’s why Democratic allies of the president are more concerned about a third-party, general election threat. 

‘With a tight election, every vote counts,’ a Biden ally told NBC News when asked about the threat of a third-party challenge. 

‘Is it in the back of many people’s brains? Absolutely. Do we have to be careful as we move out? Yes, we do,’ the source said. 

Biden himself is ‘worried about it,’ another source told the network.