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Biden stands firm on presidential bid despite eroding support

US President Joe Biden walks to Marine One for departure from the South Lawn of the White House, 5 April 2024
US President Joe Biden walks to Marine One for departure from the South Lawn of the White House, 5 April 2024 Copyright AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
Copyright AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
By Abby Chitty with AP
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Concerns about whether the incumbent US president is fit to run for office again have been simmering for a while, with fears escalating after Biden’s disastrous debate performance against his Republican opponent, Donald Trump.

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The clock is ticking for incumbent US President Joe Biden as he faces growing pressure from within his own party to withdraw from the presidential race.

However, Biden has remained defiant, vowing to keep running for re-election despite speculation that he was going to stand down.

“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," Biden told his staff this week. "I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win,” he added.

Biden and his team have offered a range of excuses for his dire CNN performance against Donald Trump, from an alleged ‘cold’ to his suffering of jet lag after having travelled to France, California and then Italy before resting at his retreat in Camp David. 

Biden arrived at Camp David on 20 June, seven days before the debate.

So far, two Democratic lawmakers have openly called on Biden to drop out of the race, while a leading ally has publicly suggested that the party might choose someone else. 

'Clear-eyed conversation'

Senior aides have also said they believed he might only have a matter of days to show he was up to the challenge before Democratic dissent reaches a climax.

But Delaware Senator Chris Coons, the president's closest ally on Capitol Hill, claims Biden clearly understood the urgency, the difficulty and the importance of the election.

“We had a direct, open, clear-eyed conversation about the debate, his thoughts on what happened and why it wasn't his best evening or best debate,” the Senator said.

“He wanted advice. He was asking earnestly for input and comment on what he should do to restore confidence and support, and what's the best path forward,” he added.

Senator Coon has since advised that the president do more unscripted, open-ended events to restore confidence in his candidacy.

President Joe Biden walks with Senator Raphael Warnock and Representative Sanford Bishop, upon arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.
President Joe Biden walks with Senator Raphael Warnock and Representative Sanford Bishop, upon arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.Alex Brandon/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

However, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, who is a major Democratic donor, has called on the president to exit the race. 

The New York Times reported him as saying, “Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous.”

Representative Jim Clyburn, a long-time friend and confidant of Biden, has also said he'd back a “mini-primary” in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention next month if Biden were to leave the race.

The South Carolina Democrat floated an idea that appeared to be laying the groundwork for alternative choices by delegates during the Democrats’ planned virtual roll call before the more formal party convention, which is set to begin on 19 August in Chicago.

That said, most Democratic lawmakers are reportedly taking a wait-and-see approach with Biden, holding out for a better idea of how the situation plays out through new polling and Biden’s scheduled ABC News interview.

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