Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Biden ‘absolutely not’ pulling out of White House race


US President Joe Biden attends the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, US, June 27, 2024. — Reuters
US President Joe Biden attends the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, US, June 27, 2024. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: Joe Biden is “absolutely not” pulling out of the White House race, his spokeswoman said Wednesday, as pressure mounted on the president following his disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump.

Panic has gripped Democrats in the wake of last week’s debate, and internal rumblings about finding a replacement candidate before November’s election have been amplified by polls showing Trump extending his lead.

The New York Times and CNN reported that Biden, 81, had acknowledged to a key ally that his reelection bid was on the line if he failed to quickly reassure the public that he was still up to the job.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre rejected those reports outright, and insisted Biden had “absolutely” no intention of withdrawing as the Democratic nominee.

“The president is clear-eyed and he is staying in the race,” she told reporters

Biden conceded in a call with campaign and party staffers that his incoherent, unfocused answers against Trump had damaged him, multiple media outlets reported – but he insisted he was in the race for the long haul.

“Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can – as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running… no one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win,” the veteran Democrat said, according to Politico.

Aftermath 

The Biden campaign has been desperate to reassure Democratic donors and voters that the president’s performance against Trump was a one-off, and not a fatal blow to his hopes of a second term.

But party figures have voiced bafflement over what they see as deflection and excuses from the president and his aides.

In Congress, lawmakers see Democratic prospects of taking over the House of Representatives, hanging on to the Senate and returning to the White House slipping away.

The concern was compounded by a New York Times poll conducted after the debate that showed Trump with his biggest lead ever over Biden — 49 percent to 43 percent of likely voters.

It wasn’t until Wednesday – six days after the debate – that Biden completed a round of calls with Democratic congressional leaders, and staffers have been voicing consternation over the glacial pace of the outreach.

“We are getting to the point where it may not have been the debate that did him in, but the aftermath of how they’ve handled it,” a senior Democratic operative told Washington political outlet Axios.

Aware of growing alarm in the party’s grassroots, Biden scheduled a meeting with all 23 Democratic governors on Wednesday evening and hits the swing states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the coming days.

He may be tested on his ability to think on his feet and articulate a coherent vision when he sits with ABC News on Friday for his first interview since the debate.

‘More worrisome’ 

The president has cited fatigue as a new explanation for his poor debate showing, saying that he had been unwise to travel “around the world a couple times” before the debate and “almost fell asleep on stage.”

But he had been back in the United States for nearly two weeks and spent two days relaxing and six in debate preparation.

The Times said people who have interacted with the president had found that his mental fogginess was “growing more frequent, more pronounced and more worrisome.”

Democratic lawmakers have begun to go public with their doubts, with two saying Tuesday they expected Biden to lose to Trump in November and another calling for him to quit the White House race.

In the street where the president grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, there was sympathy for Biden – but no campaign signs for either candidate.

“I was embarrassed for him. I felt he didn’t feel well and he probably shouldn’t have gone on the stage and that he probably made the worst of two options,” said grandmother Jamie Hayes, 73.



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