US President Joe Biden is “absolutely not” considering withdrawing from the 2024 US election race and he is “moving forward with his campaign,” the White House said on Wednesday.
Despite a disastrous television debate against Republican challenger Donald Trump leaving him up to six points behind in the polls and calls from some concerned senior Democrats for him to withdraw, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted that Biden would not be stepping aside.
“The president is moving forward,” she told reporters. “He’s moving forward as being president, he’s moving forward with his campaign, that’s the president’s focus. Anything else that we’re hearing or that’s being reported is absolutely false.”
‘I am running’
The New York Times and CNN had reported earlier on Wednesday that 81-year-old Biden had told a key ally that he has to move quickly to convince American voters that he is capable of doing the job, starting with his first post-debate TV interview this Friday.
“He knows if he has two more events like that, we’re in a different place,” the Biden ally reportedly told The New York Times.
The denials from the White House came after Biden dialed into a call with concerned members of his campaign team earlier on Wednesday, insisting that he is fit for re-election and vowed to continue, two sources familiar with the call told the Reuters news agency.
“I am running,” Biden reportedly said, adding he remained the Democratic Party leader and wasn’t being “pushed out.”
Later on Wednesday, Biden met with all 23 Democratic governors, some in person, some virtually, to reassure them of his ability to run.
On Tuesday, the president blamed his poor performance on tiredness after several bouts of traveling, saying that he “nearly fell asleep on stage” during the debate.
What did the governors say?
Three Democratic governors spoke to the press after Biden’s meeting with state leaders. The trio of governors expressed confidence in his campaign.
“The president has always had our backs. We’re going to have his back as well,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore told reporters.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that Biden was “in it to win it.”
Meanwhile, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who also chairs the Democratic Governors Association, conceded that Biden’s debate performance was not ideal.
“Obviously we, like many Americans, are a little worried. We’re worried because the threat of a Trump presidency is not theoretical,” he said.
Trump campaign: Biden ‘not fit for the White House’
Former President Trump’s campaign team released a statement in which they called Biden “weak, failed, dishonest, and not fit for the White House.”
They accused those Democrats now calling for Biden to quit of having previously “supported his disastrous policies over the past four years” which they claim have led to “extreme inflation, an open border, and chaos at home and abroad.”
Some Democrat calls for Biden to step down
Not everyone within the Democratic Party were so supportive of the president.
Raul Grijalva of Arizona has become the second House Democrat to publicly call on Biden to step down, joining Lloyd Doggett of Texas.
“If he’s the candidate, I’ll support him but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere,” he told The New York Times. “What he really needs to do is shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat – and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race.”
And after the Times published an editorial last week calling on Biden to withdraw, the Boston Globe has followed suit, writing on Wednesday:
“While the party is demoralized, panicked, and angry, there is a ray of hope. A bevy of potential candidates – from vice-president Kamala Harris to the governors of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and California, to name only a partial list – are waiting in the wings to take on Trump.
“All that they need is for Biden to graciously bow out of the race and free his delegates to cast their votes for someone else at the Democratic National Convention.
“For the good of the country, his party, and his legacy, Biden must do this. And soon.”