U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris enter a campaign event

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris enter a campaign event at Girard College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 29, 2024.

(Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As Debate Fallout Continues, Biden Says Nobody 'Pushing Me Out'

The president's message comes as a second Democrat in Congress suggested that he should exit the race.

"I'm running," declared the subject line of a fundraising email that U.S. President Joe Biden sent on Wednesday as the Democrat's reelection campaign sought to combat the criticism that has mounted since his poor debate performance last week.

"I'm the Democratic Party's nominee. No one is pushing me out. I'm not leaving, I'm in this race to the end, and WE are going to win this election," wrote Biden, who won't be the official nominee until the convention next month. "I've been knocked down and counted out my whole life. I'm sure the same is true for many of you."

After quoting his father—who supposedly used to say: "Champ, it's not how many times you get knocked down. It's how quickly you get up."—Biden expressed confidence that he and Vice President Kamala Harris will beat the presumptive Republican nominee, former President Donald Trump, in November, as they did in 2020.

However, recent polls and reporting suggest that Democratic voters and elected officials are less confident post-debate—particularly given the stakes, with Trump emboldened by a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling, pledging to be a dictator on "day one," and expected to pursue the far-right's Project 2025 policy agenda.

Since the debate, multiple political commentators have called for replacing Biden as the Democratic candidate. On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democrat in Congress to call on the president to withdraw from the race, saying that he "saved our democracy by delivering us from Trump in 2021. He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024."

In a Wednesday interview with The New York Times, Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona became the second.

"If he's the candidate, I'm going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere," Grijalva said. "What he needs to do is shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat—and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race."

As Reutersreported Tuesday:

There are 25 Democratic members of the House of Representatives preparing to call for Biden to step aside if he seems shaky in coming days, according to one House Democratic aide.

A second House Democratic aide said moderate House Democrats in competitive districts—often called "frontliners"—were getting hammered with questions in their districts this week.

Democratic Reps. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) and Jared Golden (Maine)—Blue Dog Coalition co-chairs who, as the Timesnoted, are both "facing challenging reelection races in rural districts"—have not called on Biden to bow out of the contest but separately suggested this week that he is going to lose to Trump in November.

In addition to insisting that he is still running in the email to supporters, Biden on Wednesday "unexpectedly joined a Zoom call" with campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff, according toPolitico.

Citing two people on the call who were granted anonymity, the outlet detailed:

"Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can—as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running... no one's pushing me out. I'm not leaving. I'm in this race to the end and we're going to win," Biden said on the call.

Biden's forcefulness and resolve, especially compared to how he came across during last week's debate, was as reassuring to several attendees, who discussed the call afterward via text message, as what he said.

...Harris, whose profile has risen in recent days as Democrats focus on her with new seriousness as a possible replacement atop the ticket, was seated beside Biden on the video call.

"We will not back down," Harris said. "We will follow our president's lead. We will fight, and we will win."

Several names have been floated as possible replacements if the president does decide to end his campaign—including the Democratic governors of California, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—but Reutersspoke with seven unnamed sources at the Biden campaign, DNC, and White House who all agreed that Harris is the top alternative.

While Harris' aides have so far publicly dismissed such a scenario, party donors and insiders—such as Democratic strategist Michael Trujillo and Donna Brazile, the former interim DNC chair—also told the news agency that should Biden decide against seeking a second term, it would make sense for the vice president to step in.

Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn (S.C.), a key Biden ally, has reaffirmed his support for the president since the debate but also made clear that he would back Harris if Biden exited the race.

According to the Times, which also gave anonymity to its sources:

Mr. Biden's allies said that the president had privately acknowledged that his next few appearances heading into the July 4 holiday weekend must go well, particularly an interview scheduled for Friday with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News and campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

"He knows if he has two more events like that, we're in a different place" by the end of the weekend, said one of the allies, referring to Mr. Biden's halting and unfocused performance in the debate. That person, who talked to the president in the past 24 hours, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive situation.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed during Wednesday's briefing that Biden isn't dropping out and rejected the Times reporting, saying, "That is absolutely false."

New national polling of likely voters from the Times and Siena College shows Trump beating Biden 49% to 43%, a three-point shift in the GOP's favor since before the debate. Polling published Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal similarly has Trump leading Biden 48% to 42%.

Survey results released Wednesday by CBS News feature a smaller margin but still favor the Republican: "Trump now has a three-point edge over President Biden across the battleground states collectively, and a two-point edge nationally."

Polling released Tuesday suggests Harris may do better against Trump. CNNfound that while Trump beats Biden 49% to 43%, the former president only leads Harris by two points, 47% to 45%.

The voters surveyed by Ipsos were split, with 40% supporting Trump and the same share backing Biden. In the Trump-Harris matchup, the split was 42% to 43% in the Republican's favor.

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