While President Joe Biden was away at Camp David for a long-planned family get-together, key US Democratic leaders stood firmly behind his back, rejecting the notion that he should end his 2024 campaign for a second four-year term in the White House because of his halting and disjointed debate performance last week against former President Donald Trump, reported Voice of America (VOA).

The Democratic allies of Biden readily acknowledged the 81-year-old Biden`s shortcomings in the nationally televised 90-minute debate in which he struggled at times to complete sentences and at one point mistakenly said he had killed off Medicare, the government`s health insurance program for older Americans. According to a new CBS-YouGov poll, Americans, by a 72-27 per cent margin, do not think that Biden has the “mental and cognitive health to serve as president,” a reading that was seven percentage points worse on the same question compared to three weeks ago, VOA reported.

However, national polling between Biden and Trump still showed the contest remains a dead heat. Meanwhile, the key Democratic officials rejected the suggestion of some rank-and-file Democrats and editorials in The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he drop out of the race for a younger candidate. “The unfortunate truth is that Biden should withdraw from the race, for the good of the nation he has served so admirably for half a century,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the leading newspaper in the key southern political battleground state of Georgia. “The shade of retirement is now necessary for President Biden,” it added, according to VOA. “Oh, absolutely not,” Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock told NBC`s “Meet the Press” program. “Bad debates happen. The question is, `Who has Donald Trump ever shown up for other than himself and people like himself?` I`m with Joe Biden, and it`s our assignment to make sure that he gets over the finish line come November.”

Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a prominent Biden supporter, told CNN`s “State of the Union” show, “I do not believe that Joe Biden has a problem leading for the next four years because he`s done a great job of leading for the last three-and-a-half years. I always say that the best predictor of future behaviour is past performance.” He contended that what happened at the debate was “preparation overload”, reported VOA.

Governor Wes Moore of Maryland said on CBS`s “Face the Nation,” that “the president had a difficult night just like every single one of us do” but that it should not force him out of the November 5 election. “Joe Biden is not going to take himself out of this race, nor should he.” Biden`s campaign, in a Saturday night fundraising appeal, says replacing him as the Democratic standard-bearer would lead to weeks of chaos before the August national party convention to pick a new nominee and be “a highway to losing” the national election.

Kate Bedingfield, a former Biden White House communications aide, told CNN that the Biden campaign had raised USD 33 million since the debate. Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and once Trump`s White House chief of staff, called Biden staying in the race “just all downside for Joe Biden.” “This is not a bad debate night,” he said on ABC`s “This Week” show. “This was an incoherent, almost impossible mess.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said, “He`s (Biden) a decent man. He`s a failed president. He is compromised. That`s the storyline here. That`s what the world saw, a compromised president.” Biden, after spending the weekend at campaign fundraising events in New York and New Jersey, went to Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington, for a long-planned family get-together, according to VOA.

Joe Biden has not indicated that he plans to drop out of the race and, in fact, voiced just the opposite. On Friday, the day after the debate, Biden told supporters, “I know I`m not a young man. I don`t walk as easily as I used to. I don`t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don`t debate as well as I used to, but I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth!” Biden added that he would not be running for a second term if he did not believe “with all my heart and soul I can do this.”

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