Friday, July 12, 2024

Biden blasts ‘elites’ urging him to exit race in surprise interview

President Joe Biden defended his place at the top of the Democratic ticket Monday in a surprise television interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and on a call with Democratic donors, after a weekend more lawmakers and influential supporters came forward over the weekend with concerns about his reelection bid.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said in the phone interview. “I absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024.”

“I’m getting so frustrated by the elites in the party” calling on him to step down, the president fumed. “I don’t care what the millionaires think.”

Since Biden’s disastrous debate performance on June 27, various Democratic donors have been sounding the alarm on whether he can beat former President Trump in November.

Biden insisted to hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that the concerns of his wealthy backers would not dictate his political future.

“I want their support, but that’s not the reason I’m running,” Biden said. “I’m not running about what they think and what they care about. And by the way, you don’t see a whole hell of a lot of them flocking to Trump. You don’t see a whole lot of CEOs flocking to Trump.”

“I’m not going to explain any more about what I should or shouldn’t do,” the president added defiantly. “I am running. I am running.”

The president’s age and physical fitness have been lingering public concerns throughout his term. But those worries turned into a full-fledged panic when over 51 million viewers watched him stammer through the June debate.

On Monday, NBC News confirmed that Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist specializing in Parkinson’s disease from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, visited the White House at least eight times within an eight-month period, including a January meeting with Biden’s personal doctor. The New York Times was first to report the doctor’s visits.

Cannard’s visits were confirmed through public visitor logs that did not specify why he was at the White House, who he was there to see or whether Biden was there.

In response to the reports, White House Spokesperson Andrew Bates said that Biden’s medical exams have “found no sign of Parkinson’s, and he is not being treated for it.”

Biden’s surprise MSNBC appearance came after a weekend where his political wounds appeared to deepen. Despite his campaign’s efforts to stem the bleeding, more lawmakers, donors and strategists have gone public with their doubts.

On Monday, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana came forward with something of an ultimatum for Biden.

“President Biden has got to prove to the American people — including me — that he’s up to the job for another four years. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do what I’ve always done: Stand up to President Biden when he’s wrong and protect our Montana way of life,” Tester said in a statement to NBC News.

The drop-out pressure has mounted even more on the other side of Capitol Hill.

During a meeting of senior House Democrats on Sunday, four more top Democrats told party leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York that Biden should exit the 2024 race, according to NBC News: Reps. Adam Smith, Wash., Jerry Nadler, N.Y., Mark Takano, Calif., and Joe Morelle, N.Y.

They joined five other House Democrats who had already publicly called on Biden to step down last week, including Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., who announced her position on Saturday.

On Monday, Biden sent a letter to congressional Democrats, doubling down on his commitment to stay in the 2024 race, as they all returned to Washington after the holiday recess.

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end,” Biden wrote in the letter. “Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us.”

Last week, Biden held several meetings and calls with Democratic lawmakers and allies, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., House Minority Leader Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Last Friday, Biden also sat for a 22-minute interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, though it did not appear to resolve Democrats’ anxieties.

In the coming week, Biden will be busy in meetings for the NATO summit in Washington where he has a dual-mandate: unify foreign allies around Ukraine support and quell Democratic Party concerns about his reelection bid.

On Thursday, Biden is scheduled to hold a news conference where all eyes will watch for if the president can redeem himself in an unscripted environment, receiving challenging questions. Biden is also expected to make more calls to lawmakers in the coming days to reassure them.

Some lawmakers see the week ahead as a decisive moment for the fate of Biden’s campaign.

“The clock is ticking,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a close ally of the president, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This is going to be a really important and vital week for the country and for the President.”

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