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Biden insists he's the best bet for beating Trump as allies weigh in

"I wouldn’t be running again if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024,” says the president.
Election 2024 Biden
Posted at 12:18 PM, Jul 09, 2024

President Joe Biden unequivocally committed to staying in the 2024 election Monday as he tried to stem doubts from his own party about his fitness for office and ability to defeat former President Donald Trump.

The president voiced his commitment in a letter to congressional Democrats during their return to the Capitol, as he tried to shake the concern following his lackluster debate performance.

“I wouldn’t be running again if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024,” he wrote, underscoring the voters’ voice in the nomination process. “Do we now just say this process didn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say? I decline to do that.”

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end,” the president wrote.

The calls from some Democratic donors have turned into a handful of Democratic lawmakers publicly imploring President Biden to step aside, with several others only going so far as to express concern and closely watch his performance.

But President Biden has dug in, rebuffing the criticisms from wealthy donors, pundits and others, saying he was frustrated by party elites.

“If any of these guys don't think I should, run against me. Go ahead. Announce for president. Challenge me at the convention,” he said during a previously unscheduled call in to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

RELATED STORY | An election historian explains why Biden should stay in the race

The Biden-Harris campaign is on a post-debate blitz, meanwhile, in an apparent effort to quell the distress.

A memo the campaign sent to Hill offices obtained by Scripps News highlights President Biden’s energetic campaign rallies, swing state polling and grassroots support.

The president joined a call with the Biden Victory Fund National Finance Committee, where the campaign says he told supporters, “It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye,” framing his strategy for the next debate as “Attack. Attack. Attack. Attack.”

Later Monday evening, President Biden met virtually with the Congressional Black Caucus — whose members, by and large, have been vocal in maintaining their support for the president.

President Biden’s outreach to lawmakers is expected to continue, according to a campaign source.

Some lawmakers offered their backing of the president, including leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, more progressive Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

“I made clear the day after the debate, publicly, that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed,” Jeffries told CNN.

“I think it was a really good day,” said Democratic donor and former Obama adviser Robert Wolf. “With the highlight being the Hakeem endorsement.” Wolf also noted the donor call “was great because he did it,” noting Biden “was humble that he wasn’t happy with his performance but was confident that we need to unify and will win.”

Despite the efforts to refocus the conversation from President Biden in contrast with Trump’s agenda, some within the Democratic Party still remained unfazed.

By the end of the day Monday, at least seven house Democrats had publicly called for President Biden to step aside, and nearly two dozen House and Senate Democrats expressed worry or concern about Biden’s campaign strategy, calling this week his moment to make a case for why he should remain the Democrat nominee.

House Democrats are scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday afternoon, where the topic of President Biden’s candidacy is sure to be of focus.

“Sadly, President Biden has a choice — vanity or virtue. He can either heed the voice of Father Time, or condemn the country to dark and cruel times,” said one prominent Democratic donor.

Yet at the same time, President Biden has also seen the backing of loyal allies.

“I’ve known Joe Biden for 50 years. I believe if he couldn’t do it he would not run,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who said President Biden still has the support of rank and file democrats, calling the president’s decision a “done deal.”

Rendell pointed to past political moments in time, where polling and debate performances didn’t predict the outcome of the race, but added that for the next debate, “I think they should let Joe go at it, rock and roll, try to have fun.”

Aside from his support for President Biden, Rendell questioned if Democrats went another route how a primary would work so close to the convention.

“The downside of trying to replace him and get someone in a fair and reasonable manner — it’s hard to think that that would be constructive, that that wouldn’t cause more problems,” the former governor said.

Among supporters, there’s a concern about the damage caused by the continued doubts expressed.

“This is an obviously bad idea. Conditions under which it is strategically a good idea to publicly call for Joe Biden to step down, is after Joe Biden has publicly announced that he is going to step down. While all these people are talking, you know, the New York Times, and the donor class, are having a conversation amongst themselves about how democracy works. Meanwhile, Democracy is moving forward,” said Dmitri Mehlhorn, a Democratic strategist and donor advisor.

Mehlhorn said the sooner the movement ends, the better.

“In terms of dollars, the people who have moved the most money are the most committed to Biden, and also Biden is raking in a bunch of small dollars, so the middle has hollowed out, and that is unbelievably painful, and if it lasts much longer, it will become catastrophic. But the high end, and the grassroots are solid,” he said.

This week presents a significant moment for the president. He’s scheduled to meet with world leaders at the NATO summit in Washington, before a solo press conference and other campaign engagements, all under heightened scrutiny.

But as the week got underway, President Biden was dogged by new questions surrounding his health.

Several outlets first reported a Parkinson’s expert visited the White House multiple times since last summer, based on the White House visitor’s log.

The White House initially declined to confirm the identity of the neurologist or purpose for the visit, but a memo from the president’s physician later released stated the neurologist noted on the visitor log holds regular neurology clinics to support active duty members assigned to White House operations.

“Has the president been treated for Parkinson's? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson's? No. He's not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson's? No. So those are the things I can give you full blown answers on, but I'm not going to confirm a specialist, any specialist, that comes to the White House,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a heated back-and-forth with reporters in the daily briefing.

The same neurologist saw President Biden as part of his annual physicals, according to the memo.

A memo from his physician summarizing his health in February following this year’s physical states: “An extremely detailed neurologic exam was again reassuring in that there were no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis, nor are there any signs of cervical myelopathy.”

Biden has repeatedly pointed to his record and day-to-day duties when pressed if he would take a cognitive test.

“I have a cognitive test every single day,” the president told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos last week. “Every day I have that test. Everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world.”