Biden tries to calm Democrats as 2024 drop-out pressure mounts: ‘I’m not leaving’

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U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Middle East in the State Dining room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 31, 2024. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

President Joe Biden and his White House staff spent Wednesday delivering pep talks in calls and meetings with close allies, Democratic governors, legislators and campaign staff.

“Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can, as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running,” Biden said on a call with campaign staff, an official told NBC News. “I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win.”

The comments are part of Biden’s larger firefighting mission as his team works to quell Democratic panic about his reelection bid in the wake of his disastrous debate performance against former President Donald Trump last week.

Biden was joined at the Wednesday campaign meeting by Vice President Kamala Harris, who is increasingly drawing eyes as a potential replacement for the president if he chooses to drop out of the race.

The president spoke with some of his closest allies and Capitol Hill supporters Wednesday, including former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.

The president also has taped interviews with two Black radio shows, the Earl Ingram Show on the Civic Media Network and The Source with Andrea Lawful-Sanders on WURD Radio, scheduled to air Thursday morning, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the Wednesday press briefing.

On Wednesday evening, the president is also scheduled to meet with Democratic governors from across the U.S., many of whom have been floated as other potential stand-ins for Biden. That meeting follows a Monday huddle of governors, who reportedly expressed their concerns about the Democratic Party’s path forward, according to NBC News.

New polls are delivering mixed signals about the president’s current standing in the head-to-head rematch against Trump.

A closely watched New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday found Trump leading Biden 49% to 41% among the registered voters surveyed. For likely voters, Trump led Biden by a slightly smaller 6-point margin, though that was 3 points higher than before the debate. The New York Times poll surveyed 1,532 registered voters across the country from June 28 to July 2. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percentage points for registered voters. The debate was on June 27.

Wall Street Journal poll also out Wednesday echoed those findings, with Trump ahead of Biden 48% to 42%. That survey interviewed 1,500 registered voters from June 29 through July 2 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

A Tuesday CNN poll also found Trump with a 6-point lead against Biden, though that was the same as the poll’s April result. The margin of error for that question was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Polling so close after the debate represents a snapshot of immediate voter reactions and the results could change as voters take more time to process Biden’s substandard performance.

While Biden’s campaign continues its blitz, pressure mounts for the president to consider bowing out of the 2024 race.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Biden has privately told an ally that he is weighing whether to stay in the race. Several outlets including CNN and ABC News followed with similar reports. The White House has repeatedly said those reports are false.

In television interviews on Tuesday, Pelosi and Clyburn said it was reasonable to question Biden’s physical and cognitive fitness, though they also doubled down in their support for the president.

Also on Tuesday, House Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, became the first congressional Democrat to officially call on Biden to bow out of the race. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Me., later published an op-ed expressing his lack of confidence in Biden’s candidacy titled, “Donald Trump is going to win the election and democracy will be just fine.”

In response, the White House and the Biden campaign have rolled out a slate of events for the coming week to reassure the public.

On Friday, the president will sit for an interview with ABC News. He is also visiting key battleground states Wisconsin on Friday and Pennsylvania on Sunday. Additionally, the White House announced that next week Biden will give a press conference at the NATO summit.

“He has done more than 40 interviews this year alone, and we’re going to continue that,” Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. “Those were unscripted. He’s done more than 500 ‘gaggles.’ Those are unscripted. And we want to continue to do that.”

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