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Biden and surrogates fight to overcome fallout from his disastrous performance in debate with Trump

by | Jul 1, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

No two ways around it, pro-abortion President Joe Biden was universally criticized for his abysmal performance in the first debate with pro-life former President Donald Trump. He’s been back on his heels ever since the June 27 debacle.

Influential publications such as the New York Times and the Atlanta Journal Constitution wasted no time asking/demanding that Biden step aside.

“Mr. Biden has said that he is the candidate with the best chance of taking on this threat of tyranny and defeating it” the Times editorialized. “His argument rests largely on the fact that he beat Mr. Trump in 2020. That is no longer a sufficient rationale for why Mr. Biden should be the Democratic nominee this year. At Thursday’s debate, the president needed to convince the American public that he was equal to the formidable demands of the office he is seeking to hold for another term. Voters, however, cannot be expected to ignore what was instead plain to see: Mr. Biden is not the man he was four years ago.”

The editorial ended “Mr. Biden answered an urgent question on Thursday night. It was not the answer that he and his supporters were hoping for. But if the risk of a second Trump term is as great as he says it is — and we agree with him that the danger is enormous — then his dedication to this country leaves him and his party only one choice.”

The Atlantic Journal-Constitution also weighed in.

“The unfortunate truth is that Biden should withdraw from the race, for the good of the nation he has served so admirably for half a century,” adding that Biden’s retirement is “necessary” after he failed to deliver a “competent and coherent vision” for the country’s future at the debate.

There are others. The Chicago Tribune editorialized that Biden “should announce that he will be a single-term president who now has seen the light when it comes to his own capabilities in the face of the singular demands of being the president of the United States.”

The Washington Post did not out-and-out call on Biden not to run again but did editorized that he should do some “soul-searching.”

But to return to the Times, prior to the editorial they had strongly criticized Biden in the immediate aftermath. The Times ran at least five op-ed pieces strongly hinting that Biden step down, if not outright calling for him to “Bow out of the race.” It was easy to see why.

The New York Times’s Lisa Lerer and Rebecca Davis O’Brien reported

Mr. Biden stumbled over his words, often pausing to correct phrases midsentence, sometimes winding to an uncertain finish. His voice was hoarse, which his campaign later attributed to a cold. He flubbed key figures. While he gained steam over the course of the debate, insulting Mr. Trump with greater vigor, his energy might have come too late for many viewers.

Columnists, Democratic party officials, unnamed party operatives were far more direct, indeed brutally so. No doubt they were influenced by the response of the public. “A clear majority of debate-viewing voters (57%) say Trump performed best on Thursday, including 19% of Democrats, 60% of independents and 93% of Republicans,” as Eli Yokley and Cameron Easley wrote for The Morning Consult.

While some party leaders and elected officials stood behind the President, “The pledges of support stood in contrast to the alarm expressed early and openly in the media, even by some of Mr. Biden’s longest standing supporters,” Lerer and O’Brien reported. “Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC host and a stalwart Biden defender, said questions about Mr. Biden’s fitness to run were now unavoidable. Opinion writers and liberal pundits called for him to step aside, albeit while expressing admiration for his record.”

But there were no signs that the 81-year-old Biden was withdrawing. There were a number of stories about the Biden family conflab over the weekend, and it was clear that the number one voice–Jill Biden–was dead set against him leaving the field as was son Hunter Biden.

Clearly Biden has a lot of work ahead of him. Even Axios, no fan of President Trump, ran a devasting piece under the headline “Two Joe Bidens: The night America saw the other one,” written by Alex Thompson

Between the lines: Biden’s miscues and limitations are more familiar inside the White House.

 

The time of day is important as to which of the two Bidens will appear.

 

From 10am to 4pm, Biden is dependably engaged — and many of his public events in front of cameras are held within those hours.

 

Outside of that time range or while traveling abroad, Biden is more likely to have verbal miscues and become fatigued, aides told Axios.

 

Thursday’s 90-minute debate began at 9pm ET.

 

 Afterward, CNN’s cameras captured First Lady Jill Biden gingerly helping her husband descend the few stairs by the podium.

Already a sizeable portion of voters were very nervous about Biden running again. That number only increased.

Big-time donors also were unnerved by Biden’s performance. “To many major donors of President Biden’s re-election campaign, one thing is obvious after last night’s debate debacle: things need to change – and fast,” writes USA Today:

“A hoarse-sounding Biden who struggled to finish sentences during his debate with former President Trump Thursday night did little to quell fears among the American people already worried about his age. For his most ardent supporters and donors, the 81-year-old president’s performance was ‘excruciating.’

Biden and his administration and his family are working overtime to stem the rush to jettison him. But the numbers are formidable and began with nervousness long before the debate. Writing for CBS News, Anthony Salvanto, Fred Backus, Jennifer De Pinto, and Kabir Khanna tell us

For months before the first debate, the nation’s voters repeatedly expressed doubts over whether President Biden had the cognitive health enough to serve. 

 

Today, those doubts have grown even more: now at nearly three-quarters of the electorate, and now including many within his own party.

 

And today, after the debate with former President Trump, an increased number of voters, including many Democrats, don’t think Mr. Biden should be running for president at all. Nearly half his party doesn’t think he should now be the nominee.

They add

The move came across the partisan board, but it includes a double-digit movement among Democrats, and movement among independents.

 

Given that, today nearly three in four voters also don’t think Mr. Biden should be running for president in the first place. That’s a higher-percentage sentiment than in February, when almost two-thirds said he should not run.

More tomorrow.

Categories: Joe Biden