Thu. Jul 25th, 2024


Joe Biden was meeting with his family on Sunday, a discussion believed to include talk about his political future even though it was already scheduled to take place before his calamitous presidential debate on Thursday with Donald Trump.

The meeting at Camp David came as pressures mounted on Biden following the vast fallout of the debate, in which his halting performance highlighted his vulnerabilities in a close election and invited calls from pundits, media and voters for him to step aside.

Insiders told NBC News that it would ultimately be the president and first lady Jill Biden making any pivotal decisions about his candidacy for a second term of office, although the couple’s children and grandchildren were present at the weekend retreat.

“Any discussion about the campaign is expected to be informal or an afterthought,” a source told the network, seeking to dampen speculation over the purpose of the gathering.

Similarly, an administration official also sought to dismiss reports that the Biden family summit was set to discuss him potentially standing down.

“The premise of the [NBC] story is not accurate,” the official told a media huddle at New Jersey’s McGuire air force base.

The Camp David meeting, he said, “was public in our guidance before the debate. It’s been on the schedule for weeks. There is nothing more to it.”

The official, however, did not deny the subject would come up. NBC, meanwhile, reported that Biden’s mood in private was “humiliated” and “devoid of confidence” following the debate, and that he was leaning heavily on his family for support.

So far, at rallies and events following the Thursday debate, the Bidens have shown no sign of changing course, painting the debate as a one-off bad day and doubling down on 2020 election success against Trump.

“I don’t walk as easily as I used to, I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to, I don’t debate as well as I used to,” Biden said at a more energetic North Carolina rally on Friday, addressing the widespread criticism of his Thursday performance. “But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth.” He highlighted Trump’s long litany of lies and misinformation during the debate.

His campaign has similarly brushed off criticism of Biden’s debate performance as a media frenzy.

“It’s a familiar story: Following Thursday night’s debate, the beltway class is counting Joe Biden out,” Jen O’Malley Dillon, chair of the Biden campaign, said in a memo. “The data in the battleground states, though, tells a different story.”

The Associated Press reported a fraught call among Democratic National Committee members and his campaign staff.

“I was hoping for more of a substantive conversation instead of, ‘Hey, let’s go out there and just be cheerleaders,’ without actually addressing a very serious issue that unfolded on American television for millions of people to see,” said Joe Salazar, an elected DNC member from Colorado, who was on the call.

“There were a number of things that could have been said in addressing the situation. But we didn’t get that. We were being gaslit.”

While some Democratic lawmakers have privately expressed concerns and hope Biden will drop out of the race during the convention, they have largely remained steadfast in public support for Biden’s campaign.

A number of senior party allies spread across Sunday’s political talk shows to defend him, including former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, Congressman Jim Clyburn, and New York governor Kathy Hochul.

“You can have a rough night, you can have a bad night, but the morning after defines you. And what I saw less than 24 hours after the performance the night before was Joe Biden himself at his best, energetic, fully alert,” Hochul told MSNBC’s The Weekend, referring to Friday’s North Carolina rally.

In other events over the weekend, Vice-President Kamala Harris also sought to reiterate support for Biden, and nix rumors that she would be seeking to replace him.

“In the Oval Office, negotiating bipartisan deals, I see him in the situation room keeping our country safe,” she said during a speech in Las Vegas on Friday. And at a fundraiser in California on Saturday she sought to assuage donors, who have reportedly been shaky in their support of the president since Thursday.

“Because we’ve been in this fight before, I say with full confidence, we will win,” Harris said. “We will know what we stand for, so we know what to fight for.”

And Biden himself appealed to his donors this weekend in an array of events in New York and New Jersey. “I promise you we’re going to win this election,” he said.

Meanwhile, in flash polls conducted after the debate on Thursday voters have continued to show low confidence in the president and his future. Biden’s approval rating has been weakening since he took office and concerns about his age and handling of crises both at home and abroad after Thursday are under more scrutiny than ever.

The path forward for Democrats is riddled with uncertainty. None of Biden’s possible replacements have proven to have more support than the president himself, and the threat of a Trump presidency and its impact on key issues of domestic and foreign policy leaves little room for error.

Sunday’s internal meeting comes on the back of calls with Biden’s senior leadership team. But the conversation he has with Jill Biden and his children and grandchildren could hold more insight on the future of this election year.




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