Biden and Trump clinch nominations, setting the stage for a grueling general election rematch

By Steve Peoples, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump clinched their parties’ presidential nominations Tuesday with decisive victories in a slate of low-profile primaries, setting up a general election rematch that many voters do not want.

The outcome of contests across Georgia, Mississippi and Washington state was never in doubt. Neither Biden, a Democrat, nor Trump, a Republican, faced major opposition. But the magnitude of their wins gave each man the delegate majority he needed to claim his party’s nomination at the summertime national conventions.

Not even halfway through the presidential primary calendar, Tuesday marked a crystalizing moment for a nation uneasy with its choices in 2024.

There is no longer any doubt that the fall election will feature a rematch between two flawed and unpopular presidents. At 81, Biden is already the oldest president in U.S. history, while the 77-year-old Trump is facing decades in prison as a defendant in four criminal cases. Their rematch — the first featuring two U.S. presidents since 1912 — will almost certainly deepen the nation’s searing political and cultural divides over the eight-month grind that lies ahead.

In a statement, Biden celebrated the nomination while casting Trump as a serious threat to democracy.

Trump, Biden said, “is running a campaign of resentment, revenge, and retribution that threatens the very idea of America.”

He continued, “I am honored that the broad coalition of voters representing the rich diversity of the Democratic Party across the country have put their faith in me once again to lead our party — and our country — in a moment when the threat Trump poses is greater than ever.”

Trump, in a video posted on social media, celebrated what he called “a great day of victory.”

“But now we have to get back to work because we have the worst president in the history of our country,” Trump said of Biden. “So, we’re not going to take time to celebrate. We’ll celebrate in eight months when the election is over.”

Both candidates dominated Tuesday’s primaries in swing-state Georgia, deep-red Mississippi and Democratic-leaning Washington. Trump also won Hawaii’s Republican caucus.

Despite their tough talk, the road ahead will not be easy for either presumptive nominee.

Trump is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal cases involving his handling of classified documents and his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, among other alleged crimes. He’s also facing increasingly pointed questions about his policy plans and relationships with some of the world’s most dangerous dictators. Trump met privately on Friday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has rolled back democracy in his country.

Biden, who would be 86 years old at the end of his next term, is working to assure a skeptical electorate that he’s still physically and mentally able to thrive in the world’s most important job. Voters in both parties are unhappy with his handling of immigration and inflation.

And he’s dealing with additional dissension within his party’s progressive base, furious that he hasn’t done more to stop Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Activists and religious leaders in Washington encouraged Democrats to vote “uncommitted” to signal their outrage.