Joe Biden’s Bad Weekend

Octogenarian president plagued by dismal polls and disgruntled allies following disastrous debate performance

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

For a short time on Friday, the Biden campaign appeared ready to turn the page from its 81-year-old leader’s horrific debate performance against former president Donald Trump. A speech from Joe Biden in North Carolina prompted positive reviews in the New York Times, the campaign announced $14 million in post-debate fundraising, and prominent Democratic leaders—including Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer—publicly defended the president.

The next 48 hours, however, indicated they won’t be able to move on so fast. 

An onslaught of mainstream media reports hammered the octogenarian’s cognitive decline. Axios detailed efforts from top White House staffers to shield Biden “from people inside and outside the White House since the beginning of his presidency,” including the White House’s residential staff. The Wall Street Journal reported that a “deteriorating” Biden’s struggles during meetings with world leaders. And a Washington Post piece noted that Biden failed to recite rehearsed answers on his age during the debate.

Post-debate polls and surveys, meanwhile, showed that Biden’s Thursday night collapse disturbed many voters. 

A survey of Democratic-leaning voters from former Bill Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg showed that respondents were less likely to back Biden after the debate. A CBS News poll found that 72 percent of registered voters do not believe Biden has the “mental and cognitive health to serve as president.” Nationally, Trump’s lead over Biden jumped to 5 points, according to an Atlas Intel poll

Party insiders also continued to panic—at times publicly. The Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee, hoping to assuage post-debate concerns, held a Saturday afternoon call with committee members. It brought intense anger, with participants saying they were “gaslit” during a business-as-usual discussion that largely avoided Biden’s debate performance.

“I was hoping for more of a substantive conversation instead of, ‘Hey, let’s go out there and just be cheerleaders,’ without actually addressing a very serious issue that unfolded on American television for millions of people to see,” DNC member Joe Salazar told the Associated Press. 

“There were a number of things that could have been said in addressing the situation. But we didn’t get that. We were being gaslit.”

Still, Biden and his team continued to show no sign of exiting the race. At times, they openly dismissed their critics.

A campaign memo released Saturday, for example, disregarded any post-debate polling decline. “If we do see changes in polling in the coming weeks, it will not be the first time that overblown media narratives have driven temporary dips in the polls,” the memo said.

A Saturday night fundraising email struck a similar tone. The campaign attacked the “bedwetting brigade … calling for Joe Biden to ‘drop out.'” It also provided a list of talking points on “the state of the race after Thursday” for supporters to share with “your panicked aunt, your MAGA uncle, or some self-important Podcasters.”

“Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee, period. End of story,” the email read. “Voters voted. He won overwhelmingly. And if he were to drop out, it would lead to weeks of chaos, internal foodfighting, and a bunch of candidates who limp into a brutal floor fight at the convention, all while Donald Trump has time to speak to American voters uncontested.”

“You want a highway to losing? It’s that.”

Hours later, on Sunday, Biden gathered with his family at Camp David. An NBC News report suggested the trip would bring serious introspection, with Biden “expected to discuss the future of his re-election campaign with family … following the debate that left many fellow Democrats worried about his ability to beat Trump,” according to the outlet’s Tom Namako.

Shortly thereafter, CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported the opposite. The Biden family powwow at Camp David was planned prior to the debate and included a photo shoot with portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, who also shot a family portrait for the Obamas. 

The family “spent the morning not having a summit but in hair and makeup” ahead of the shoot, which was planned for Sunday because embattled first son Hunter Biden would be in town, according to New York Times White House reporter Katie Rogers. Biden’s close allies, Rogers said, were angry not with the president’s debate performance but with “how the president was staffed and prepared ahead of the debate.”

“Biden himself is not stewing, trying to move forward,” Rogers tweeted.

Original News Source – Washington Free Beacon

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