The Bidens go on island vacation ahead of the 2024 announcement

President Joe Biden returns this week to St. Croix, one of his and First Lady Jill Biden’s favorite vacation spots, seeking one last chance to rest before what is expected to be a contentious 2023 and re-election .

As Biden relaxes in a familiar spot (the first couple have visited the US Virgin Islands for more than a dozen years, vacationing there roughly ten times since the mid-2000s), the work that remains for him ahead escalates into a frigid Washington. Aides are already preparing the president’s annual State of the Union address, which is usually delivered in late January or early February, and see the address as an opportunity to set out the stakes and themes Biden might take up in the election. election campaign.

The couple arrived in St. Croix on Tuesday, along with family members, at a gathering of the tight-knit clan who, according to several people with knowledge of recent conversations who spoke to CNN, have now pledged support for another Biden run for the House White. Senior administration officials once viewed this week’s tropical getaway as a crucial juncture that would play a significant role in deciding his political future, and while the president still plans to mull with his family the pros and cons of filing a running for re-election, people who have discussed the matter with him lately say the decision is essentially made.

Clues that Biden was expected on St. Croix were everywhere in the lead up to his arrival: the jumbo C-17 transport planes sitting among the puddle jumpers at the airport; temporary security checkpoints among the bougainvilleas along the quiet coastal road; an unusually high number of visitors from Washington.

Even for a popular tourist destination accustomed to a wave of winter travelers, this week’s presidential visit has drained the island’s resources. Rental cars sold out and hotels were full, according to residents.