Joe Biden has announced he will seek a second term in the White House, ending months of speculation and firing the starting gun on a 2024 re-election campaign that could result in a rematch of his 2020 clash with Donald Trump.

In a video posted to social media on Tuesday that sought to depict him as the voice of moderation against rightwing Republicans and signalled the likely themes of his campaign, the president said: “This not a time to be complacent; that is why I am running for re-election.”

Against images of the January 6 2021 attack on the US Capitol, Biden said the question the US was facing “is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer”. He added that “around the country . . . extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms”.

Biden has long hinted that he would seek a second term, but the official launch of his campaign quells doubts that the 80-year-old president would run for re-election, and allows him to begin fundraising aggressively to support his campaign apparatus.

The Biden campaign began soliciting donations from grassroots supporters almost immediately on Tuesday morning, calling on voters to help him “finish the job” of his presidency. The president is expected to convene a meeting of deep-pocketed donors in Washington later in the week.

Biden is set to address a conference of building trade unions later on Tuesday in Washington, while his vice-president, Kamala Harris, is expected to speak at Howard University with abortion rights activists. Harris featured prominently in Biden’s re-election video, underscoring the central role the vice-president is likely to play in the president’s re-election bid.

Biden is unlikely to face a serious primary challenge from within the Democratic party’s ranks. So far the only Democrats to launch presidential bids are Marianne Williamson, the self-help author, and Robert F Kennedy Jr, an environmental lawyer and scion of the Kennedy family who has become prominent for his anti-vaccine views.

However, Biden is still likely to face an uphill battle in the general election against a Republican opponent. The American electorate is sharply divided, and Biden has battled persistently low approval ratings for much of his presidency.

Allies argue that Biden and the Democrats defied low expectations in last year’s midterm elections, and can do so again in 2024, especially if Trump is at the top of the Republican ticket.

Trump, 76, remains the apparent frontrunner in the Republican primary field, although several challengers, including Florida governor Ron DeSantis, have yet to formally enter the race.

Most national opinion polls suggest that Biden would beat Trump in a rematch election, but would be more likely to struggle against a different Republican candidate.

Tuesday’s announcement came exactly four years after Biden launched his successful 2020 bid for the presidency. The longtime US senator from Delaware ran unsuccessfully for president in 1988 and 2008. Barack Obama eventually chose him as his vice-president.

Biden is the oldest serving president in US history. If re-elected, he would be 82 at the start of his second term, and 86 at the end of his White House tenure.

Alongside the video launch on Tuesday, Biden announced that longtime Democratic aide Julie Chávez Rodríguez would serve as his campaign manager, while Quentin Fulks, who ran Raphael Warnock’s successful Senate campaign in Georgia last year, would be principal deputy campaign manager.

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