Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

After a devastating debate performance, Biden aides try to reassure panicky Democrats

By 37ci3 Jun28,2024

WASHINGTON — The debates were always going to be a gamble for Joe Biden — but the bet may have cost more than he imagined after he gave what was widely described as a lackluster and uneven performance.

Some Democrats, alarmed by the spectacle, worried that it might be needed Unleash Biden From the ticket, even his campaign aides insisted, nothing about the evening should disqualify him as a candidate.

Biden’s advisers heading into the debate he believed that when voters get a closer look at an unfiltered Donald Trump — when they hear his rants and taunts — they will appreciate Biden’s stability and realize they have no choice but to give him another term.

So they held the debate months earlier than usual, and Trump accepted.

After a few minutes, the plan seemed to backfire.

Biden gave a shaky performance, speaking in a husky voice that was sometimes unintelligible. In the split-screen footage, Biden remained open-mouthed as he listened to the questions and answers, which contrasted with his opponent’s look of cold determination.

After discussing the Social Safety Net, he did not elaborate, saying, “We beat Medicare,” the popular health care program for older Americans.

“He defeated Medicare; he beat him to death,” Trump replied.

Watching the spectacle, Biden’s advisers were initially worried. They said that his voice was caused by a cold. But they didn’t prepare the audience by explaining his condition beforehand, making Biden’s delivery all the more jarring.

Even Biden’s former communications director Kate Bedingfield he later said that “this was a truly disappointing debate performance by Joe Biden.”

As Biden gained ground and his voice grew stronger, the mood in his campaign offices grew. According to aides, Biden delivered several pick-up lines via social media that they plan to spread widely, particularly about Trump: “Only one of us is a convicted felon and I’m looking at him.”

“He just needed to warm up,” said one aide of Biden’s rocky start.

“Not an ideal start,” he said at his campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, insisting there was no “mass panic” about his overall performance.

Biden’s team cheered as they conducted a personal test of what average viewers thought of the debate in real time. Voters record their reactions to what the candidates say by turning the dials one way or the other.

Several campaign sources said voters reacted negatively to a number of Trump’s responses, including his defense of his actions on January 6, 2021, when his supporters stormed the US Capitol building and interfered with the counting of electoral votes that confirmed Biden’s 2020 victory.

Biden’s aides said Trump’s other answers could alienate independent voters. They noted that voters were pushed back by some of Trump’s insults, including calling Biden “the worst president in the history of our country.”

Biden smiled at that. Historians have rated Trump as the worst president in history this year, which Biden also noted.

Another bright spot for Biden’s campaign was his fundraising — which aides touted in the hours before the debate. An aide said the campaign raised more donations Thursday than any other day of the election cycle, though the person did not disclose the total amount.

With Biden’s recent stumbles on the public mind, some Democratic strategists, elected officials and opinion pollsters have begun to publicly call for him to drop out of the race.

Nicholas Christophethe influential New York Times columnist wrote in X that Biden should “reflect on this debate performance” and withdraw in favor of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Biden’s Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, or another candidate better positioned to defeat Trump. .

This is unlikely to happen and Biden’s elimination mechanism going against his will is difficult for the Democratic Party, which has gone all-in on his re-election.

Biden’s aides stressed that whatever happened in the debate phase, the fundamentals of the race remained unchanged. The election remains a choice between Trump, who threatens America’s more than two centuries of democratic norms, and what they see as a successful and stable president.

They hope that in the coming days voters will remember the stakes and overlook Biden’s stumble.

“Biden’s voice was hoarse, but voters shouldn’t let that distract them from Trump’s endless stream of lies and outrage,” said one Democratic officeholder and Biden ally. “Trump attacks women and immigrants and offers nothing positive for our future.”

However, it’s clear that Team Biden’s bet on the debate didn’t work out as planned. What he wanted to see was a confident and powerful Biden, who delivered a commanding performance during his State of the Union address in March. That’s not what was seen Thursday in Atlanta.

“I’ve been waiting for the State of the Union, Joe,” said a member of Biden’s fundraising team.

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By 37ci3

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