". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Dems Struggle to Unite behind Biden

July 10, 2024

After a devastating debate performance late last month, President Joe Biden seems to be bouncing back, with a little help from some of his fellow Democrats. The only question is whether or not the support will be enough to keep him from falling down again.

Biden’s popularity among Democrats has been cratering amid concerns over his deteriorating mental and cognitive state, with a growing number calling on the president to withdraw from the race for the White House. Despite the calls for Biden to drop out, a number of high-profile Democrats have rushed to his defense. On Monday, far-left Squad leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said that the matter of Biden’s candidacy “is closed.” “I have spoken to the president over the weekend. I have spoken with him extensively. He made clear then and he has made clear since that he is in this race,” she reportedly said. “The matter is closed. He had reiterated that this morning, he has reiterated that to the public. Joe Biden is our nominee. He is not leaving this race. He is in this race, and I support him.”

Fellow Squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is reported to have joined Ocasio-Cortez in backing Biden. “Outside a few outliers I think everybody’s supporting the president,” the Muslim congresswoman said. The comment followed a conference call Biden had with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. “You’ve had my back. And I promise I’m going to continue to have yours,” Biden is reported to have told caucus members. While members such as caucus chairman Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) have decided to back Biden, others like Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) have outright criticized congressional colleagues for questioning the president’s mental fitness.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has also come to Biden’s defense in the wake of the presidential debate. In a recent interview, Whitmer said that Biden’s alarming debate performance was “a 90-minute snapshot of someone who has been back and forth to Europe twice in one week.” She continued, “But a 90-minute snapshot of a person with high integrity who’s served his country for decades — no one’s as good as their best 90 minutes or as bad as their worst 90 minutes.” She added that back-to-back trips to Europe would be a “brutal calendar” even for a politician her own age. “And so I think about all the extraordinary things that people see, but don’t actually pause and say, ‘Wow, he actually keeps up this really aggressive calendar and he’s showing up,’ and certainly there’s that debate performance, and then there’ll be millions [of] others where he’ll demonstrate the vigor and the capacity,” she said.

Biden himself sent a letter to congressional Democrats on Monday reiterating that “despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.” He noted that Democratic primaries have given him nearly 4,000 convention delegates, “making me the presumptive nominee of our party by a wide margin,” even though others ran against him in the primaries. “Do we now just say this process didn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say? I decline to do that,” the president said.

In his letter, Biden also doubled down on his record of aggressive abortion promotion. “We are protecting the freedoms of Americans. Trump and the MAGA Republicans are taking them away,” Biden insisted. “They have already for the first time in history taken away a fundamental freedom from the American people by overturning Roe v. Wade. … I have made it clear that if Kamala and I are reelected, and the nation elects a Democratic House and Senate, we will make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.”

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end. We have one job. And that is to beat Donald Trump,” Biden concluded. “Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump.”

On Tuesday, House Democrats met to consider whether to give Biden their full backing or demand that he withdraw from the race. Despite public displays of support for the 81-year-old president, no clear consensus was reached during the closed-doors meeting. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) was asked, upon leaving the meeting, whether Democrats are “on the same page.” He scoffed and replied, “No. … We’re not even in the same book.” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said outright, “I don’t think he should stay in the race,” adding that he’s “concerned about [Biden] dragging the ticket down.” Quigley also reported that he’s “sworn to secrecy” regarding which of his colleagues want Biden to drop out.

One unnamed Democrat told reporters that the meeting “felt like a funeral.” Another said that the comparison is “an insult to funerals,” adding, “The morale of the [Democratic] caucus is at historic lows.” While some Democrats have teased the possibility of replacing Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris, Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) insisted that this would only be “setting her up for failure.” The majority of caucus members involved in the meeting did not make public statements.

“Democrats are waking up to the fact that we’re going to have a very tough election, and it doesn’t matter who our nominee is. This is going to be a dogfight in November,” Biden supporter Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) told Politico. He continued, “The candidate that the voters chose is who we have as a candidate.” Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Colo.) said that there is no “general consensus.”

Prior to the meeting, an Axios report claimed that Democratic leadership was rallying behind Biden. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), another Squad member, insisted, “Joe Biden is the nominee.” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) stated, “I made clear publicly the day after the debate I support Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.” One unnamed House Democrat said, “Very few members will openly speak in favor of Biden stepping aside. As someone who wanted the reckoning and is disappointed that it’s over, trust me: it’s over.”

The Democrats’ internal concerns over Biden’s cognitive state and mental fitness for another term have not been buoyed by a Monday report revealing that a Parkinson’s specialist has visited the White House over eight times in less than a year, including a visit with Biden’s personal physician. Neurologist Kevin Cannard had visited the White House late in 2022 but made eight different visits between July of 2023 and March of 2024.

The White House quickly went on defense. “Has the president been treated for Parkinson’s? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson’s? No. He’s not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson’s? No,” insisted White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She suggested instead that Cannard may have been visiting “military personnel who work on the grounds.”

In an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos on Friday, Biden was asked repeatedly about his health, his age, and his cognitive state. The president dismissed his disastrous debate performance by saying, “I just had a bad night,” and insisted that he is not dropping out of the race. After the sit-down, Stephanopoulos gave a blunt assessment of the 81-year-old leader, saying he doesn’t think the president “can serve four more years.”

S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.