Biden meets with his family amid pressures to step down after debate

Published 9:26 pm Sunday, June 30, 2024

President Joe Bidens family used a Sunday gathering at Camp David to urge him to stay in the race and keep fighting despite his dreadful debate performance, and some members criticized how his staff prepared him for the faceoff, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

Biden spent the day sequestered with first lady Jill Biden, his children and grandchildren. It was a previously scheduled trip to the presidential retreat in Maryland for a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz for the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

But the gathering was also an exercise in trying to figure out how to quell Democratic anxiety that has exploded following Thursdays performance.

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While his family was aware of how poorly he performed against Donald Trump, they also continue to think hes the best person to beat the Republican presumptive nominee. They also believe he is capable of doing the job of president for another four years, according to the people who were not authorized to speak publicly about internal discussions and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Among the most vocal: Jill Biden and son Hunter, whom the president has long gone to for counsel and advice. Both believe the president shouldnt bow out when hes down, and believe that he can come back from what they see as one subpar performance. The family questioned how he was prepared for the debate by staff and wondered if they could have done something better, the people said.

Bidens campaign has spent the days since the debate — where he appeared raspy, trailed off, and at times gave convoluted answers — working to keep donors and surrogates on board as Democrats increasingly questioned whether he should stay in the race.

At this point in the delegate process, Biden would likely have to decide to drop out for there to be a new nominee. And the people he listens to most in the world — his wife and son — are telling him to stay in.

Even before the debate, the age of the 81yearold Democratic president had been a liability with voters, and the primetime faceoff appeared to reinforce the public’s deepseated concerns before perhaps the largest audience he will have in the four months until Election Day. CNN said more than 51 million people watched the debate.

While the president was huddled with his family, prominent Democrats rallied to deliver a public show of support for his campaign on Sunday.

“I do not believe that Joe Biden has a problem leading for the next four years,” said one close ally, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina. Joe Biden should continue to run on his record.”