Biden seeks to reassure Democrats after debate 'mistake': Here's where things stand and what happens next

It’s been one week since Joe Biden’s troubling debate performance, and while he continues to assert that he won’t withdraw from the 2024 race, the president faces an uphill battle to reassure some within his own party he still has what it takes to beat former president Trump in November.

Biden met with Democratic governors Wednesday and many top leaders are publicly supporting him. However, two Democratic members of Congress have called on the president to withdraw as has one of the party’s major donors. Here’s a breakdown of where things stand and what lies ahead.

🗳️ Trump falsely claims Biden is ‘quitting the race’

The Daily Beast obtained a video of Trump sitting in a golf cart and boasting about his debate performance.

“I got [Biden] out of the [race] and that means we have Kamala,” he said, though Biden maintained that he has no plans to step aside. “Look at that old, broken down pile of crap.”

“Can you imagine that guy dealing with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin? And the president of China — who’s a fierce person,” Trump said, referring to Chinese President, Xi Jinping.

In the video, Trump also called Harris “pathetic.”

Trump allies have ramped up public attacks on Harris amid speculation she could be the top pick to replace Biden on the ticket. Privately, the Trump campaign is reportedly relishing in the pandemonium. “Chaos is our friend,” a Trump source told CNN.

On Thursday, Biden assured his supporters that he plans to remain in the race. “No one’s pushing me out,” the 81-year-old president said on Wednesday’s call with campaign and Democratic National Committee staff. “I’m not leaving.”

🏛️ Closed-door meeting with Democratic governors

At a private meeting Wednesday night with more than 20 Democratic governors, Biden and Harris attempted to allay concerns about the president’s health and viability.

“The president has always had our backs. We’re going to have his back as well,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told reporters after the hour-long discussion. Moore claimed the governors were candid in relaying negative feedback about Biden’s June 27 debate performance offered by their constituents. “The president … he’s our nominee. The president is our party leader,” Moore said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul maintained that Biden is “in it to win it” while Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he believes Biden is fit for office before attacking Trump. “Obviously we, like many Americans, are a little worried,” Walz said. “We’re worried because the threat of a Trump presidency is not theoretical.”

Only three of the 24 governors who attended the meeting — Hochul, Moore and Walz — spoke to the media after the meeting. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a rumored Biden replacement, attended the meeting in person. Afterward, he offered support on X, formerly Twitter.

Read more: Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds 60% of Americans say Biden is not fit for another term, 2024 contest with Trump remains too close to call

Politico reported that during the meeting, Biden acknowledged that he sought medical attention following last week’s debate. That revelation appeared to contradict what White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday when asked if Biden had received any medical exams since February.

“We were able to talk to his doctor about that and that is a no,” she responded.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Andrew Bates told CNN that “the president was seen to check on his cold and was recovering well.”

🗣️ Democratic congressmen begin to call on Biden to drop out

Multiple reports claim several House Democrats are privately weighing whether to come out and ask Biden to withdraw from the 2024 election. So far, only two Democratic lawmakers have done so publicly. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas was the first who said in a statement he’s “hopeful” Biden “will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

“While much of his work has been transformational, he pledged to be transitional,” Doggett said. “He has the opportunity to encourage a new generation of leaders from whom a nominee can be chosen to unite our country through an open, democratic process.”

On Thursday, Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona became the second Democratic office-holder to follow suit.

“If he’s the candidate, I’m going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere,” Grijalva told the New York Times. “What [Biden] needs to do is shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat — and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race.”

While several top Democrats have publicly expressed concern about Biden remaining in the race, they have stopped short of calling for him to drop out.

💰 Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings wants Biden to ‘step aside’

The Netflix co-founder is one of the first Democratic mega-donors to issue a statement calling on the president to drop out of the race.

“Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” he told the New York Times in an email.

Privately, many big donors are said to be concerned about whether Biden has what it takes to beat Trump on Nov. 5.

“There is significant erosion among elected [officials] and donors,” Biden donor advisor Dmitri Mehlhorn told the Washington Post.

📺 High-stakes interviews following debate ‘mistake’

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview this week that Biden needed to sit for interviews with “serious journalists” in order to try to restore public confidence in his leadership.

On Thursday, a pre-taped radio interview with Biden by Milwaukee host Earl Ingram aired in which the president addressed his debate performance. “I had a bad night,” he said. “And the fact of the matter is that I screwed up. I made a mistake.”

Biden continued that he was going to “win this election,” and reiterated last week’s message: “When you get knocked down, you just get back up.”

A much bigger test will come on Friday, when Biden will sit for an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. While the network had originally planned to air the interview on Sunday, it announced Thursday that it would move that date up. It will now air on Friday, July 5, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

According to multiple reports, Biden’s told allies he knows the next several days are crucial to his re-election campaign. The president’s annual July 4 party at the White House will go on as planned on Thursday. On Friday, he’ll travel to Wisconsin.

Read more

  • Biden Tells Allies He Knows He Has Only Days to Salvage Candidacy. “Biden has emphasized that he is still deeply committed to the fight for reelection but understands that his viability as a candidate is on the line.” [The New York Times]

  • Biden family is ‘all in’ on president continuing in 2024 race, source says. “The first lady is all in. The family’s all in.” [CNN]

  • Who could replace Biden as the Democratic nominee? “Here’s the not-so-short shortlist of hypothetical Biden replacements — along with how they rank among voters in a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll.” [Yahoo News]

  • As Biden team suggests there can be no alternative, DNC rules provide a path if Biden were to step aside.‘Joe Biden will be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president,’ the talking points read.” [NBC News]

  • Democratic governors to President Biden: ‘Path to victory is the No. 1 priority.’ “But while several governors said afterward they “have his back,” they also stressed their top goal is finding a “path to win.” [USA Today]

  • Trump allies intensify Harris attacks as Biden replacement talk builds. “Trump’s campaign and his Republican allies appear to be laying the groundwork for an all-out assault on Harris.” [Reuters]

  • ‘KHive’ and ‘coconut-pilled’: Kamala Harris sees a sudden social media renaissance. “X listed ‘Kamala’ among its trending topics in politics with roughly 188,000 posts, many offering some mix of genuine support and ironic bemusement.” [NBC News]

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