Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Biden privately remains torn between defiance and acceptance amid calls to step aside 

By 37ci3 Jul4,2024

WASHINGTON — In recent conversations with aides, family members and allies outside the White House, President Joe Biden alternated between acceptance and defiance of a seismic shift in his political stance within his own party, according to four people familiar with the matter. .

In some discussions, Biden admitted that blow from him debate performance Last week he may have grown too big to handle, and in others he completely dismissed any idea that he might walk away from the re-election campaign, these people said.

Some members of the president’s family, notably first lady Jill Biden and their son Hunter Biden, have called for him to make changes to his staff and are increasingly familiar with his efforts to revive his campaign by giving more input on his campaign strategy. said the matter.

Biden’s sister, Valerie Owens, is traveling to Washington on Thursday to join other White House family members for the July 4th holiday, but she will also hold face-to-face meetings with her brother’s campaign, according to a person familiar with the matter. plans.

Members of the Biden family have privately pointed the finger at some of their longtime aides over their disastrous debate. For example, they discussed whether to fire White House senior adviser Anita Dunn and even her husband, Bob Bauer, who is Biden’s personal lawyer.

Dunn and Bauer They were the first backers of Biden’s 2020 campaign after endorsing his candidacy in 2016, which he ultimately withdrew from. They were among more than a dozen Biden aides who participated in last week’s debate prep days, with Dunn as moderator and Bauer playing former President Donald Trump in mock debate sessions. For more than a year, both have drawn the ire of members of the Biden family, with Hunter Biden maintaining a lower profile in his approach to his legal problems.

White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients denied that there were discussions about removing Dunn or Bauer.

“The president and first lady have full confidence in their team, including Anita and Bob,” Zients said. “These baseless and offensive rumors have no truth.”

A senior Democrat said: “The family is scared. These consultants are incredibly loyal and do their job. This is unreasonable.”

An aide told Biden’s advisers that he did not blame the debate team for his performance.

Members of Biden’s family have been among the loudest in rejecting any suggestion that he drop out of the race, according to people familiar with the private discussions. Biden, too, is not inclined to back down, which he has emphasized in public speeches. But he has tempered his instincts to stay and fight — and his family’s reinforcement of those instincts — against calls for his ouster and reports that his debate performance is hurting his re-election prospects.

“He can see that there’s potentially no real way out,” one of the people said. “But they’re pushing it.”

“President Biden has been consistent: he remains in the race,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Biden has begun reaching out to Democratic Party leaders in the past few days calls for his withdrawal grew and growing concern among Biden allies.

Former President Barack Obama’s advice during a phone call this week didn’t sit well with Biden, who still harbors a grudge against his former boss for advising him not to run for the White House in 2016.

Obama privately questioned the idea that he could influence Biden to make such a personal decision if party leaders determined he needed to be persuaded to drop out of the race, according to two people familiar with the comments.

“President Biden appreciates President Obama’s advice and support for his leadership,” White House spokesman Bates said.

Reached for comment, Obama’s spokeswoman pointed to his recent public comments in support of Biden and his 2012 re-election bid, which he also said had a poor debate.

Biden initially felt energized to resume his campaign a day after the debate. rally Friday afternoon He received a rapturous reception from the North Carolina crowd, according to two people familiar with the matter. As the weekend wore on, the weight of what was happening on the debate stage in front of the country sunk in for Biden, this person said.

His mood changed. He was deeply hurt and embarrassed by the disastrous debate performance that the world saw, NBC News reported.

The question before him has shifted from whether he can withstand outside political pressure to step aside to whether he can get past the humiliation of controversy to gain the confidence to get back in the ring and throw punches. in a bruising, gloves-off campaign.

“His whole life, when Joe Biden gets knocked down, he gets back up,” White House spokesman Bates said.

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who hosted Biden at a fundraiser on Tuesday, said he didn’t look like a candidate.

“He looked strong. He didn’t seem meek or cowed. He didn’t seem like a broken man. He didn’t seem like he was in crisis,” Beyer said. “He was just very confident and like, ‘I’m going to win this job.’

NBC News reported that Hunter Biden wanted his father to stay in the race. And Jill Biden was determined not to give up.

collected with Biden family members Last weekend in Camp David, Maryland, he pointed to everything Biden has endured since he decided to run for the White House — including attacks on Hunter Biden and criminal investigations against his sons that have exposed the family’s darkest and most painful moments — familiar to the conversation. the two said to indicate that now was the time to fight. Our son could go to prison so he said, referring to Hunter Biden’s recent conviction on a felony gun charge.

As Jill Biden campaigned for her husband in Pennsylvania on Tuesday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., said Biden’s debate performance did not come up. Barragan told NBC News that Jill Biden is “active, always smiling and engaged with us.”

“I couldn’t see anything to tell me something was going on and something else was going on,” he said.

Immediately after the debate, members of the Biden family tried to figure out what had happened as they prepared for the debate with top officials at Camp David, according to people familiar with the discussions. These people wanted to know who was responsible for loading Biden with numbers and statistics rather than training him to speak from the heart.

Biden’s top aides have specifically questioned Bauer’s decision to play Trump in mock debate sessions when there were outside offers for someone else to take on the role, which he rejected. A person close to former chief of staff Ron Klain, who oversaw Biden’s debate preparations, said Klain asked Bauer to play Trump as he did in the 2020 mock debate sessions.

Now, the family talks about how to restore Biden’s position and continue his campaign, while his closest aides are leading a broad campaign effort to keep mainstream Democrats out of touch with him.

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By 37ci3

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