US President Joe Biden Reportedly Considers Dropping Out, White House Denies Claim

President Biden has communicated to key allies that the upcoming days are crucial, acknowledging that his chances of salvaging his candidacy hinge on convincing voters of his competence following a disastrous debate performance last week.

According to two allies who have spoken with him, Mr. Biden has stressed his deep commitment to the re-election fight but recognises that his viability as a candidate is in jeopardy, according to The New York Times.

In a call with his campaign staff on Wednesday, the president aimed to project confidence, while White House officials worked to soothe concerns within the administration.

“No one’s pushing me out,” Mr. Biden said during the call. “I’m not leaving.”

Vice President Kamala Harris was also on the call.

“We will not back down. We will follow our president’s lead,” she stated. “We will fight, and we will win.”

US President Joe Biden is reportedly considering dropping out of the race. Credit: AP: Evan Vucci
US President Joe Biden is reportedly considering dropping out of the race. Credit: AP: Evan Vucci

Despite this, Mr. Biden’s allies indicated that the president had privately acknowledged that his next few appearances, leading into the July 4 holiday weekend, must go well. This includes an interview scheduled for Friday with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News and campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“He knows if he has two more events like that, we’re in a different place by the end of the weekend,” said one ally, referring to Mr. Biden’s stumbling and unfocused debate performance. This person, who spoke to the president within the past 24 hours, spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation.

These accounts of his conversations with allies are the first public indications that the president is seriously considering his ability to recover following the severe setback in last Thursday’s debate in Atlanta.

A recent poll by The New York Times and Siena College shows former President Donald J. Trump leading Mr. Biden 49 percent to 43 percent among likely voters nationally, a three-point swing towards the Republican from just a week prior to the debate. The six-point deficit highlights the growing challenges facing Mr. Biden’s campaign, though some insiders had feared the gap could be even wider.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the president had directly told her he had not discussed dropping out of the race with allies.

“That is absolutely false,” she said during a briefing. Addressing speculation about Mr. Biden stepping down, Ms. Jean-Pierre also referred to Ms. Harris, who is gaining support among Democrats, as “the future of the party.”

A top adviser to Mr. Biden, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the president was “well aware of the political challenge he faces.”

This adviser mentioned that Mr. Biden is aware the outcome of his campaign could diverge from his aspirations. Mr. Biden, they said, believes he is an effective leader who remains mentally sharp and “doesn’t get how others don’t accept that.”

The Times reported on Tuesday that several current and former officials, along with others who have interacted with the president behind closed doors, noted that he increasingly appeared confused or listless, or would lose track of conversations, in the weeks and months leading up to the debate.

Mr. Biden firmly views his debate performance as poor but does not see it as indicative of his capacity to serve another four years, the adviser said.

Key party donors have been privately urging House members, senators, super PACs, the Biden campaign, and the White House to persuade Mr. Biden to step down, according to Democrats familiar with these discussions. On Wednesday, Reed Hastings, the Netflix co-founder and a significant Democratic Party donor, called for Mr. Biden to relinquish his position at the top of the ticket.

“Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” he said in an email to The Times.

An elected Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the political sensitivities, said the decision ultimately rests with Mr. Biden. “The only thing that matters is his decision on whether or not he’s going to let it go,” they said.

Within the White House, senior officials attempted to calm nerves in a staff-wide conference call. Jeff Zients, the White House chief of staff, instructed the president’s staff to remain focused and “execute, execute, execute.” Mr. Zients also encouraged them to “hold their heads up” and be proud, a directive he admitted carried an element of humour.

Mr. Biden had lunch with Ms. Harris at the White House, and the pair later met with Democratic governors. To date, Mr. Biden has been consulting with trusted advisers and family members, who have urged him to stay in the race.

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