Biden to give first post-debate TV interview, airing Friday

House Democrat publicly urges Biden to quit race, as president seeks to reassure party

Statement from Texas’s Lloyd Doggett is first in party, as 81-year-old US leader prepares to convince governors he is of sound body and mind after halting, stumbling debate

US President Joe Biden speaks at a presidential debate watch party, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden speaks at a presidential debate watch party, June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden will hold a meeting with Democratic governors on Wednesday, a White House official said, in the wake of his shaky debate performance last week with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and calls for him to step aside as the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

The meeting, which will be held at the White House but may be largely virtual with governors attending remotely, will give the president a chance to reassure leaders in his party that he is of sound mind and body.

The 81-year-old president’s weak performance caused immediate panic among even his most ardent supporters, leading many to question whether the 81-year-old career politician is the strongest Democratic candidate to take on Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in November.

Amid the deep concerns, a House Democratic lawmaker became the first in the party on Tuesday to publicly call on Biden to step aside, voicing what many have been privately whispering behind closed doors since last week’s debate.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas said in a statement that Biden should “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

“My decision to make these strong reservations public is not done lightly nor does it in any way diminish my respect for all that President Biden has achieved,” said Doggett, who represents an Austin-based district and is serving his 15th term in Congress.

“Recognizing that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

Although Doggett is the first congressional Democrat to explicitly call for Biden to withdraw, others have suggested such a move may be worth considering.

“He has to be honest with himself,” Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, a moderate from Illinois, told CNN on Tuesday. “It’s his decision. I just want him to appreciate at this time just how much it impacts, not just his race, but all the other races coming in November.”

In addition to the White House, Democrats are defending several vulnerable seats in the Senate, where they hold a 51-49 majority and are trying to recapture a majority in the House.

Doggett pointed to that dynamic.

“President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump,” the Texan representative said. “I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not.”

Doggett’s explosive statement came minutes after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told MSNBC on Tuesday that she believes “it is a legitimate question” whether Biden’s halting performance is just “an episode or is this a condition.”

“When people ask that question, it’s legitimate — of both candidates,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said she had not spoken with Biden since the debate, but she emphasized that the president is on “top of his game, in terms of knowing the issues and what is at stake.”

As part of a broad effort to shore up support among party stalwarts, one source told Reuters that the president would also meet with leaders from Capitol Hill later this week to tamp down on talk that he should step aside.

The meetings are part of a broad effort to stabilize the president’s reelection bid after his halting, stumbling display on the Atlanta debate stage.

In addition to the talks, he will also sit down for his first televised interview with ABC News following the presidential debate, the news network said on Tuesday, adding that excerpts would be aired on Friday.

His team held difficult phone calls on Sunday and Monday with important campaign funders who questioned whether he should stay in the presidential race.

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