Biden vows to continue campaigning as support for him on Capitol Hill quickly wanes

WASHINGTON — The Rebel President Joe Biden on Wednesday he promised to continue seeking re-election, rejecting Growing pressure from Democrats retreat after a disaster debate performance questioned his willingness to continue the campaign, much less win in November.

But the signs were increasingly ominous for the president. Two Democratic lawmakers called on Biden to drop out of the race, while a leading ally publicly suggested how the party could choose someone elseAnd senior aides said they believe he may have just a few days to show he is up to the challenge before unrest in the party reaches a fever pitch.

“Let me say this as clearly as I can, as simply and directly as I can: I am running … nobody is pushing me out,” Biden said during a call with his re-election campaign staff. “I am not leaving. I am in this race to the end, and we will win.”

” READ MORE: To serve his country, Donald Trump should drop out of the race | Editorial Team

Yet despite his efforts to pull multiple levers — whether it was his impromptu appearance with campaign aides, private conversations with high-ranking lawmakers, a weekend of travel and a televised interview — to salvage his shaky reelection, Biden faced serious and growing signs that support for him was rapidly ebbing on Capitol Hill and among other allies.

Representative Raúl Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, told The New York Times that while he supports Biden as long as he is the nominee, “this is an opportunity to look elsewhere” and what Biden “has to do is take responsibility for keeping this seat — and part of that responsibility is getting out of this race.”

Veteran Biden aides said they believe Biden, 81, has just days to make a convincing case that he is fit for office before his party’s panic over his debate performance and anger over his response boil over, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak more freely. The president, they said, acknowledges the urgency of the task — after analyzing polls and a huge amount of media coverage — but is confident he can do it in the coming days and has emphasized that he will not drop out of the race.

Meanwhile, a major Democratic donor, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, also called on the president to drop out of the race, saying, “Biden must step down to allow a vibrant Democratic leader to defeat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” a statement first reported by The New York Times.

And it all comes after Rep. Jim Clyburn, a longtime Biden friend and confidante, said he would support a “mini-primary” before next month’s Democratic National Convention if Biden drops out of the race. The South Carolina Democrat floated the idea, which appeared to lay the groundwork for an alternate delegate election, during Democrats’ planned virtual roll call, which is scheduled ahead of the party’s more formal convention, which is set to begin Aug. 19 in Chicago.

On CNN, Clyburn said: Vice President Kamala Harrisgovernors and others could join the competition: “It would be fair to everyone.”

Clyburn, a senior lawmaker and former member of his party’s House leadership, said he had never seen the president in person behave the way he did on the debate stage last week and called it “troubling.”

And while other Democratic allies have been quiet since Thursday’s debate, private frustration has been growing over the Biden campaign’s response to his dismal debate performance at a key moment in the campaign — particularly the fact that Biden waited several days before engaging in direct damage control with senior members of his own party.

One Democratic aide said the lack of response was worse than the debate performance itself, saying lawmakers who support Biden want him to directly address concerns about his stamina in front of reporters and voters. The aide was granted anonymity so he could discuss the bipartisan dynamics candidly.

Most Democratic lawmakers have taken a wait-and-see approach to Biden, waiting for a better sense of developments based on new polls and Biden’s scheduled interview with ABC News, said the Democratic lawmakers, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the president.

When Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who this week called on Biden to drop out of the race, sought support from other Democratic lawmakers, he found no takers and ultimately issued the statement himself, according to a person familiar with the initiative who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it.

But there was also a sense that the waiting period would soon end unless Biden stepped up his efforts on Capitol Hill or otherwise proved he was up to the job.

Some have suggested Harris is emerging as the frontrunner to replace Biden if he withdraws, although participants in private conversations have acknowledged that governors… Gavin Newsom California and Gretchen Whitmer Michigan remains a viable alternative. But some insiders see Harris as the best candidate to quickly unite the party and avoid a chaotic and divisive convention fight.

Even as pressure mounted around Biden, he and Harris made a surprise appearance on a pre-election call with all his staff and gave a motivational speech, emphasizing the importance of defeating former President Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, in November and returning to Biden’s previous post-debate vow that if he gets knocked down, he’ll get back up.

“Just as we defeated Donald Trump in 2020, we will defeat him again in 2024,” Biden said, telling attendees he would not be pulled from the race. Harris added: “We will not back down. We will follow the example of our president. We will fight, and we will win.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked during a briefing with reporters whether Biden would consider stepping down. “Absolutely not,” she said.

“I can’t come up with anything that would change the president’s mind,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden, who is still seeking a second term. She added that he is “clear-eyed. And he’s staying in the race.”

Still, Democrats are not satisfied with the explanations for Biden’s debate performance, both from White House staff and the president himself. And there is a deeper frustration among some in the party who believe Biden should have addressed questions about his poor debate performance much earlier and that he put them in a difficult position by staying in race.

The Leadership Now Project, a group of business executives, academics and opinion leaders, wrote in a letter that the “threat of a second Trump term” is so great that Biden should “pass the torch for this year’s presidential nomination to the next generation of highly capable Democrats.”

Trump’s campaign issued a statement noting that “every Democrat” now calling on the president “to resign was once a Biden supporter.”

Trump had a slight lead over Biden in two polls of voters conducted after last week’s debate. In one poll, conducted by SSRS for CNNfound that three-quarters of voters — including more than half of Democratic voters — said the party had a better chance of winning the presidential election in November if it ran a candidate other than Biden.

About 7 in 10 voters, including 45% of Democrats, said Biden’s physical and mental fitness was a reason to vote against him, according to the CNN/SSRS poll.

About 6 in 10 voters, including about a quarter of Democrats, were estimated to say that reelecting Biden would be a risky choice for the country, not a safe one. New York Times/Siena College pollThe poll shows Democrats are divided on whether Biden should remain the nominee.

Molly Murphy, a Biden campaign expert, said that “today’s polls do not fundamentally change the course of the race.”

In a further boost to morale, Biden’s chief of staff Jeff Zients urged White House aides at an all-staff meeting to tune out the “noise” and focus on the task of governing.

Biden himself has begun reaching out to the public personally, talking privately with senior Democratic lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Delaware Senator Chris Coons and Clyburn.

Democratic governors who planned to attend in person included Tim Walz of Minnesota, who leads the Democratic Governors Association, Newsom, Whitmer, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, Daniel McKee of Rhode Island, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, John Carney of Delaware and Wes Moore of Maryland, according to their aides. Governors Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Jay Inslee of Washington, Jared Polis of Colorado, Tina Kotek of Oregon and Phil Murphy of New Jersey planned to attend virtually. Harris will also attend the session with the governors.

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