Biden Faces Mounting Pressure from Democrats Over Debate Performance

President Biden's debate performance has sparked concerns about his viability as a 2024 candidate. Democrats are divided on whether he should continue his campaign.

Published July 04, 2024 - 00:07am

6 minutes read
United States

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The White House is defending its forceful denunciation of cheap fakes following a halting debate performance last week in which President Joe Biden at times struggled to keep his train of thought.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced questions Tuesday about whether the decision to dispel videos allegedly showing Biden's mental decline as misinformation, part of a counteroffensive by the White House, was a mistake following the debate against former President Donald Trump.

Pressed on whether she regretted any of her language attacking media outlets for amplifying those videos, the press secretary responded simply, None at all.

Let me be clear. It was a certain part of the media, she continued. Look, independent, mainstream fact-checkers in the press and misinformation experts have been calling out cheap fakes, and at the end of the day, they're fakes -- that's what they were -- targeting the president.

Reporters and these misinformation experts said that this president was being targeted, and what we did was echo that out. That's what we did, and we'll certainly continue to call that out, Jean-Pierre said. I don't regret it at all.

Biden's performance during Thursday's debate has set off a panic among Democratic officials, operatives, and lawmakers. The president, according to Jean-Pierre, is holding a number of conversations with Democratic governors and members of Congress as he attempts to ease those concerns.

Following the debate, a CNN poll indicated Vice President Kamala Harris has a better chance of retaining the White House in the November presidential polls than President Biden. The approval rating of Biden, 81, has plummeted after his dismal debate performance against his predecessor Donald Trump. Since the debate, there has been increasing voices in the ruling Democratic party for Biden to step down and let someone else run the race for the crucial November 5 presidential elections.

According to the CNN poll conducted by SRS, Trump is currently ahead of Biden by six points. The poll also finds Harris within striking distance of Trump in a hypothetical matchup, with 47 percent of registered voters supporting Trump and 45 percent supporting Harris, suggesting there is no clear leader under such a scenario.

Further exacerbating the situation, an anonymous ally of Biden revealed to the New York Times that the President understands he needs to convince the public he is capable of continuing as president or risk losing his candidacy. The ally emphasized that Biden is still deeply committed to re-election but acknowledged the importance of his forthcoming appearances, including an interview and campaign stops.

This conversation is the first public indication that the President is seriously considering whether he can recover from his debate performance. Concerns are mounting about his viability as a candidate and whether he can serve another four years. Adding to the pressure, some Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Lloyd Doggett, have publicly urged Biden to withdraw from the race.

Doggett stated Biden should make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. He expressed respect for Biden's achievements but indicated fear that the president might not be the strongest candidate to take on Trump in November. This sentiment echoes a broader anxiety among Democrats about Biden's age and stamina, with several prominent figures expressing concerns but none explicitly calling for him to step aside until now.

Nonetheless, Biden remains determined to fight for a second term. He blamed his lackluster debate performance on jet lag and travel fatigue, apologizing for failing to listen to his staff's advice. He affirmed that winning re-election is critical and vowed to continue his campaign efforts. According to aides, he spent six days at the presidential retreat, Camp David, preparing for the debate, yet struggled during the event, leading to a wave of intra-party tension.

Multiple elected Democrats and political strategists have shared their worries openly, emphasizing that Biden faces a significant political challenge. The debate has led some Democrats to question the overall strategy and whether another candidate might be better positioned to lead the party into the 2024 election. The issue of Biden's mental fitness has become a focal point of discussion, with many voters expressing concerns in various polls.

House Democratic lawmakers and other prominent figures have voiced their thoughts on Biden's future candidacy. Rep. Jamie Raskin pondered on the possibility of Biden stepping aside, while former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi questioned whether Biden's debate performance was a one-night event or indicative of a more significant issue. Pelosi stressed that the scrutiny should apply to both Biden and Trump.

Vice President Kamala Harris, responding to these discussions, reaffirmed her support for Biden as the nominee. She emphasized that they had previously beaten Trump and were confident in doing so again. Meanwhile, Representative Jim Clyburn indicated he would support Harris if Biden stepped aside, showing a continuity in leadership within the party.

Looking ahead, Biden will give a primetime interview to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, which will be his first since the debate. This interview and subsequent public appearances will be critical for Biden to restore confidence among voters and his party. Democratic donors and strategists continue to watch closely, considering the impact of Biden's candidacy not only on the presidential election but also on the broader political landscape, including congressional control.

In conclusion, President Biden's debate performance has sparked a wave of introspection within the Democratic party, raising questions about his future as a candidate and the overall strategy for the upcoming election. The internal debate reflects broader concerns about his ability to continue serving effectively, his age, and his stamina. As the election draws nearer, Biden's ability to address these issues and unify his party will be crucial in determining the outcome of the November elections.


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