By the standards of the wild past decade-plus, not to mention the tumult of the last few weeks, the launch was utterly conventional and outright normal -- a throwback in tone and format that fits the person if not necessarily the era he happens to lead in.
President Joe Biden is, as of Tuesday, officially a candidate for reelection in 2024. It ends an extended period of will-he-or-won't-he speculation leavened by no small amount of should-he-or-shouldn't-he Democratic angst, unusual in part given that no incumbent president eligible for an additional term has chosen not to seek it in more than half a century.
Biden, of course, has been in public life nearly that long. In announcing in a low-key manner, on a date with meaning for few beyond the superstitious, he served notice once again that he's not about to change.
"The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead, we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer," Biden said in a campaign launch video, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and released early Tuesday morning. "I know what I want the answer to be, and I think you do too."
With the video drop, Biden chose to formally enter the race for the presidency the same way and on the same date he did four years prior. The announcement also comes on a day both he and Vice President Kamala Harris are holding official events that speak to their reelection strategy -- Biden speaking at a union gathering to tout legislative achievements, Harris addressing abortion rights at her alma mater, Howard University.
The last time Biden ran, of course, he won, despite voices inside and outside his party wondering if he was too old or out of touch for the moment. If the president himself hasn't changed all that much since, consider how the world around him has.
The COVID-19 pandemic has come and gone; Russia's war in Ukraine came and stayed; inflation has sapped paychecks and perceptions around the economy; a conservative Supreme Court majority ended a constitutional right to abortion; the last president lost an election, refused to admit it, and is still contesting the results even as he runs to win his job back.
The tumult appears to have taken a toll. Biden's long-term low-50s approval rating disappeared in his first summer in office and is has been stuck underwater for 20 months and counting, according to FiveThirtyEight's polling averages.
An NBC News poll released over the weekend found that 70% of Americans overall believe Biden should not run for a second term. That includes a bare majority -- 51% -- of Democrats who don't think he should run, with many citing his age as a major reason they believe he should step aside.
That has contributed to an unusual degree of worry from inside the Democratic Party about whether the incumbent Democratic president should be running again. The biggest names in the party are passing on a primary challenge, though at least two other Democrats -- a prominent author who qualified for a 2020 primary debate, and an activist who hails from one of the most politically prominent families in the country -- have announced that they are running.
There's no reason to think Biden has to worry about winning Democratic primaries, and his team is seeking to change the states' voting order to benefit him just in case. But there are growing reasons for Democrats to worry about hitching their futures to a candidate who is past his 80th birthday, while Republicans gear up for a bruising race.
New polling released Monday by the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's Kennedy School underscores Biden's challenges. Despite strong and broad support for Biden's policies among voters and potential voters under 30, the president's approval rating among that group is stuck in the mid-30s.
"We honestly do see this gaping disconnect between approval of the president and approval of the party, and the policies and the values that they stand for," said John Della Volpe, the poll's director and a former Biden pollster. "That needs to be addressed before 2024."
Della Volpe, who took a leave of absence from his current job to work for Biden's 2020 campaign, noted that Biden's approval rating was relatively weak among younger Americans at the start of that race. But those same voters ended up being a key driver in his victory over then-President Donald Trump after months of persistent messaging.
Now, he said, Biden's challenge is to sell his achievements -- on the environment, gun control, infrastructure, health care and more -- and signal that he understands why voters continue to be frustrated.
It's worked in the past -- in 2020, when Biden beat a wide range of younger candidates to become the nominee, and then to defeat Trump. His party also managed to beat expectations in the 2022 midterms, gaining a seat in the Senate and just barely losing control of the House of Representatives.
One thing Biden may still have going for him, at least politically: Trump. In his 2019 launch video, Biden predicted that the four years of the Trump presidency would go down as an "aberrant moment in time."
Yet Trump's movement remains strong enough to make him the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2024. Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., all make brief appearances in Biden's campaign-launch video -- along with images from Jan. 6, 2021.
For whatever else is said about him, Biden is the one politician who can say he defeated Trump. His low-key launch is at least an implicit reminder of what he is not -- and in the end, that may be as effective a campaign rationale as there needs to be.
Back in December 2016, with his party reeling from a shocking election defeat and Trump still president-elect, then-Vice President Joe Biden deflected on his plans for the next election with a well-worn adage: "Four years is a lifetime in politics," Biden said at the time.
He couldn't have known then how many lives would be shaped inside the timespan of a single presidential term. Now, his party's hopes rest on the calculation that he will again be right for the political climate, even if events swirl faster than he may like.
"This is our moment," the president said.