Accessibility links

Breaking News

Biden vows to continue his run for reelection


U.S. President Joe Biden attends the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., June 27, 2024.
U.S. President Joe Biden attends the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., June 27, 2024.

U.S. President Joe Biden defiantly vowed Wednesday to keep running for reelection, pushing back against growing sentiment that his faltering debate performance had doomed his candidacy and that he should withdraw from the campaign leading to the November 5 election.

"I am running. I am the leader of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out," Biden told his staff, according to a campaign aide.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise appearance on a Democratic National Committee call, using it as a pep talk and stressing the stakes of the 2024 election.

Biden said he would get back up after being knocked down by his weak debate performance last week against former President Donald Trump. At times during the debate, he lost of his train of thought, even saying wrongly at one point that he had killed off Medicare, the government’s health insurance program for older Americans.

Watch related report by Carolyn Presutti:

Biden tries to pivot from debate as Trump seeks to spotlight president’s struggles
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:02:49 0:00

Biden’s reassurance that he would stay in the race came as some Democrats had started to publicly question whether the 81-year-old president had the mental and physical ability to keep a vigorous campaign going over the next four months and, if he wins, to govern over the next four years. Top Democratic lawmakers have voiced support for Biden, but at least two Democratic lawmakers have called for Biden to quit the race.

The effort to assuage worries continued late Wednesday, as Biden met with all but one of the state governors who are members of his Democratic Party.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, told reporters that Biden’s debate performance was bad, but that the president is fit for office.

Maryland Governor Wes Moore said it is clear Biden is "in this to win."

"The president is our nominee. The president is our party leader," Moore said.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green highlighted his experience meeting with Biden after wildfires hit Hawaii last year and drew a distinction between the presidential debate and the job of governing.

"In this upcoming election, it is clear to me that we’re electing a commander in chief, not a debater in chief," Green said on X.

National and state-by-state surveys show Trump gaining ground after the fallout from the debate even as pollsters say the matchup is still very close. Biden campaign aides have called wealthy campaign donors to try to calm their anxiety about the contest.

Biden has spoken privately with senior Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Delaware Senator Chris Coons and South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, according to one White House official and others with knowledge of the conversations.

In Congress, there has been increasing angst among other lawmakers who feel Biden has been too slow to reach out to top Democrats and rank-and-file members, according to people familiar with the conversations.

White House chief of staff Jeff Zients tried to rally the White House staff's confidence in Biden's reelection apparatus, noting that the president has a "strong campaign team" in place and that the White House's job is to focus on continuing to implement Biden's agenda. He also told staff that Biden has always survived tough times, despite being counted out at times over his decades in public office.

A memo sent Wednesday by campaign chair Jen O'Malley Dillon and campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez contended that the election between Biden and Trump will still be close, seeking to downplay the lasting effects of the debate.

On Wednesday morning, the Biden campaign released an all-staff memo showing that Biden had slipped only slightly in national polling against Trump since the debate and that the race essentially remains a dead heat.

Other independent polls, however, have shown Trump gaining ground since the debate, which was viewed by 51 million people.

At a Tuesday evening fundraiser in a suburb of Washington, Biden offered an explanation, pointing to a lack of sleep and a travel schedule that in the weeks ahead of the debate included D-Day commemorations in France, a G-7 summit in Italy and multiple campaign events in the United States.

“The fact is that, you know, I wasn’t very smart. I decided to travel around the world a couple times, going through around 100 time zones ... before ... the debate. Didn’t listen to my staff and came back and nearly fell asleep on stage," he said. "That's no excuse but it is an explanation.”

A handful of Democratic officials have started to publicly voice their concerns about whether Biden has the mental sharpness and physical strength to finish his campaign and serve another four-year term, which would end in early 2029 when he is 86.

FILE - U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, speaks during an event at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.
FILE - U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, speaks during an event at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Lloyd Doggett, a 15-term House of Representatives lawmaker from Texas, on Tuesday became the first Democratic official to call for Biden to step aside, saying Biden should "make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw."

On Wednesday, Representative Raul Grijalva became the second Democratic lawmaker to urge Biden to step aside.

"If he's the candidate, I'm going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere," Grijalva, a progressive who represents a district in southern Arizona along the border with Mexico, told The New York Times.

Senior Democratic leaders, however, have been expressing support for Biden following the recent debate, saying he should stand fast against the growing angst among his party colleagues.

Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said Tuesday he believed the 81-year-old president was fit to serve.

"I'm with Joe Biden," he said, echoing comments by other top party officials.

But Nancy Pelosi, a California congresswoman and a former speaker of the House of Representatives, said that while she supports Biden, it was “a legitimate question to say, ‘Is this an episode or is this a condition?’” Pelosi said she was hearing "mixed" comments from Democratic donors on whether Biden would be able to continue his run for a second term.

ABC News, which aggregates polling data, demographics and economic information to make its election forecasts, said Biden had slipped somewhat in national polling since the debate but nonetheless concluded, "Four months out from Election Day, the 2024 presidential election is a pure toss-up."

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and The Associated Press.