Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (2024)

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Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (1)

Nicholas Nehamas,Maggie Astor and Michael D. Shear

Biden goes on the offensive. Here’s the latest.

Facing what could be the most crucial week of his candidacy, President Biden on Monday made an aggressive attempt to dispel the concerns that a broad range of Democrats have expressed about his re-election campaign.

By the afternoon, he had called into MSNBC’s widely watched “Morning Joe” program, sent a defiant letter to Democratic members of Congress and previewed his plan to attack former President Donald J. Trump during a call with his top fund-raisers.

“If any of these guys don’t think I should run, run against me,” Mr. Biden said on “Morning Joe,” hitting back at his critics. “Go ahead, announce for president. Challenge me at the convention.”

The offensive came as Mr. Biden contends with crumbling support from Democratic lawmakers and mounting fears of a rout by Mr. Trump and his followers in November’s races for the White House and Congress.

On his call with donors, the president suggested that Democrats needed to turn their attention back to Mr. Trump. And he previewed a strategic pivot for his campaign before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee next week, saying he planned to “attack, attack, attack, attack.”

Here’s what else to know:

  • A Parkinson’s expert repeatedly visited the White House. Dr. Kevin Cannard visited the White House eight times in eight months from last summer through this spring, including at least once for a meeting with Mr. Biden’s physician, according to official visitor logs. It was unclear whether Dr. Cannard was at the White House to consult specifically about the president, and the White House press secretary on Monday declined to address the purpose of the visits. The White House has said that Mr. Biden has no signs of the disease.

  • The NATO summit. Many Democrats are demanding a ramped-up campaign for Mr. Biden to prove his viability, but he will be busy this week hosting the 75th NATO summit in Washington. The long-planned three-day meeting, beginning Tuesday, arrives at an inopportune moment for Mr. Biden. Aides have promised an aggressive campaign schedule the week of July 15.

  • A rare news conference. Mr. Biden and his advisers have said he will hold a solo news conference with White House reporters, most likely on Thursday, at the end of the NATO summit. While those were routine for previous presidents, Mr. Biden has not kept that tradition. His performance will be scrutinized by Democrats who are eager to assess whether he can handle the off-the-cuff pressure.

  • Whitmer shuts down notion of running. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, whose name has been raised as a possible contender for the Democratic nomination if Mr. Biden were to end his campaign, said she wouldn’t run even if he did drop out, according to The Associated Press.

  • More defections. Representative Adam Smith, Democrat of Washington, became the latest elected Democrat to publicly call on Mr. Biden to step aside. His statement came after he and several other high-ranking House Democrats said in a private meeting on Sunday that Mr. Biden should end his campaign, continuing a trickle of defections that shows no signs of stopping. The other representatives included Jerrold Nadler of New York, Mark Takano of California and Joseph D. Morelle of New York. Read what Democratic politicians have said about Mr. Biden so far.

  • The veepstakes. Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, a candidate to be Mr. Trump’s running mate, told NBC News on Sunday that he supported Mr. Trump’s vow if elected again to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mr. Biden. Another running-mate contender, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, appeared on CNN and denied that Mr. Trump had called for weaponizing the Justice Department against his political opponents.

Tim Balk and Theodore Schleifer contributed reporting.

July 8, 2024, 10:18 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 10:18 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada, is complaining about “ageism and ableism” on CNN as he defends President Biden.

July 8, 2024, 9:39 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 9:39 p.m. ET

Chris Cameron

Egging on the crisis in the Democratic Party, Donald Trump in his Hannity interview raised the possibility of President Biden’s cabinet ousting him from office through the 25th Amendment as a way to replace him at the top of the ticket. The 25th Amendment, which has a mechanism to strip the president of the powers of the office, was discussed occasionally during Trump’s presidency, and after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, Congress urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the amendment and remove Trump from power.

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July 8, 2024, 9:24 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 9:24 p.m. ET

Chris Cameron

Donald Trump has called in to Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News and is discussing President Biden’s poor debate performance. Trump said he was confused by Biden’s weak voice and appearance, but did not focus on it in the moment. “I did not know what was happening, it was strange,” Trump said. He added, “I wasn’t looking over at him almost at all, except when he went a little bit haywire.”

July 8, 2024, 9:23 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 9:23 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

Donald Trump, speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News, is now predicting President Biden stays in the race. “He’s got an ego,” he said, and “doesn’t want to quit.”

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (6)

July 8, 2024, 9:21 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 9:21 p.m. ET

Simon J. Levien

Senator Bernie Sanders, appearing on CNN, said President Biden needed to do more to interact with voters in an engaging and organic way. He has to “interact with people, turn off the teleprompter,” Sanders said. He underscored this point by adding that Donald Trump was “a very good entertainer” but that the election should not be decided on this alone.

July 8, 2024, 9:13 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 9:13 p.m. ET

Robert Jimison

During a call with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, President Biden thanked members for supporting him both now and throughout his political career, according to a participant on the call. None of the members who attended the virtual meeting expressed any doubts to the president about his electability or said he should step aside.

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July 8, 2024, 9:01 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 9:01 p.m. ET

Kellen Browning

Kari Lake, a Republican candidate for Senate in Arizona, released a digital ad on Monday slamming President Biden’s debate performance and tying it to her Democratic foe, Representative Ruben Gallego, in one of the most explicit signs yet of how the debate could harm down-ballot Democrats. “Joe Biden is 100 percent gone,” the ad says. “And Ruben Gallego votes with Biden 100 percent of the time.”

July 8, 2024, 8:11 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 8:11 p.m. ET

Catie Edmondson

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington and the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said in a lengthy statement that despite her “strong respect” for President Biden, “we need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate on the campaign trail in the very near future in order for him to convince voters he is up to the job.” She added, “At this critical time for our country, President Biden must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future.”

July 8, 2024, 6:58 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:58 p.m. ET

Robert Jimison

Representative Katie Porter, Democrat of California, urged President Biden to make an in-person visit to Capitol Hill and hold a question-and-answer session with lawmakers. “We know what he’s done, because we were part of it," she said. "But now it’s really important that he shows us the path forward. And I would be very eager to hear that."

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (11)

July 8, 2024, 6:47 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:47 p.m. ET

Maya Miller

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the House minority leader, said his position “has not changed” on President Biden and his candidacy. “I made clear publicly, the day after the debate, that I support president Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket,” he said.

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July 8, 2024, 6:46 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:46 p.m. ET

Shane Goldmacher

news analysis

Biden has been leveraging his defiance to stem Democratic defections.

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President Biden’s increasingly emphatic declarations that he will not exit the presidential race are delivering an unmistakable message to potential wayward Democrats: Any criticisms going forward damage the party’s chances against Donald J. Trump.

For days, Mr. Biden has said he will remain his party’s nominee after his poor debate short of an intervention from “the Lord Almighty.” On Monday, he put that assertion into action.

It began with an open letter to congressional Democrats saying he was definitely running. It continued with a defiant call into one of his favorite cable news shows decrying the “elites” trying to shove him out. It included a midday appearance on a private video call with some of his campaign’s top financiers as well as a call into a virtual meeting on Monday evening with a bulwark of his past support: the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I am not going anywhere,” Mr. Biden told the donors.

The moves amounted to a show of defiance that the Biden operation hoped would earn him some deference, as uneasy Democratic lawmakers trickled back to Capitol Hill after a holiday break. At the same time, the Biden team was trying to reframe the pressure campaign to get him to step aside as one hatched by the elite party establishment rather than a genuine reflection of grass-roots voter fears about the 81-year-old commander in chief’s age and acuity.

“I love this fighting Joe Biden,” said Representative Robert Garcia of California, a Democrat and an outspoken Biden supporter. “When he takes a punch, he’s going to come back and punch harder.”

As lawmakers returned to Washington, Mr. Biden received some key words of support, including from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (“He is in this race; the matter is closed”), but also some concerns among influential lawmakers, including Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who is in the Democratic leadership (“We need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate”).

Both in his private and public remarks on Monday, Mr. Biden made clear he holds all the cards when determining his political future. He has won every state in the Democratic primaries and 14 million votes, netting him practically every delegate headed to Chicago next month for the party’s convention.

“I’m more than the presumptive,” Mr. Biden said to Mika Brzezinski, one of the co-hosts of “Morning Joe,” during his MSNBC phone interview. “I’m going to be the Democratic nominee.”

Mr. Biden is trying to turn attention back on Mr. Trump, saying on the call with the campaign’s top financiers: “We’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bull’s-eye.”

Even some of the president’s allies, however, were asking why the public-relations blitz was coming more than 10 days after the debate rather than its immediate aftermath. Mr. Biden had waited eight days after the debate to sit for his first unscripted interview, with ABC News on Friday, and did not call congressional leaders until days after the debate.

David Doak, a longtime Democratic strategist, said the effort to impose party discipline was understandable for Mr. Biden even if it risks “dividing the party at the worst time.” By insisting so unequivocally he is not stepping aside, Mr. Biden is making it harder for Democrats to call for him to do so lest they weaken him for the fall.

“Strategically, it is what I would be advising him to do if he wanted to hold on to the nomination at all costs,” Mr. Doak said. “It is the ‘at all costs’ which is the question at hand.”

On MSNBC, Mr. Biden goaded those who want a different nominee to try running against him. “Go ahead, announce for president,” Mr. Biden dared them. “Challenge me at the convention.”

In 2020, Mr. Biden spoke of serving as a “bridge” to the next generation of Democratic talent. Now he sees himself as the party’s best chance to defeat Mr. Trump again, regardless of widespread concerns about his age.

“I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024,” Mr. Biden said.

Despite his standing as the head of the party and the most powerful elected official in the nation, Mr. Biden tried on Monday to take on the mantle of an outsider fending off the establishment of his own party.

“I’m getting so frustrated by the elites,” Mr. Biden said on the MSNBC show that has long been a favorite of the Democratic political establishment. “I’m not talking about you guys,” he said of the “Morning Joe” co-hosts, “but by the elites in the party who, they know so much more.” He uttered those last words with a singsong tone of disdain.

He added that his weekend of campaigning in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had reaffirmed his belief that voters were standing by him. “I don’t care what the millionaires think,” Mr. Biden said.

Less than three hours later, Mr. Biden was participating in a Zoom call with members of his national finance committee — the top donors, millionaires and financiers who bundle contributions from others — to thank them for their support.

Mr. Biden’s attempt to reframe the race as a battle against the elites — in an echo of how Mr. Trump has often bashed his own party’s leadership — did not sit well in some quarters of the party.

“This desire to wedge the ‘Dem elite’ against ‘regular folk’ is bad,” Hilary Rosen, a veteran Democratic strategist, wrote on X. “The elite are actually late to concerns about Biden. A majority of voters have been concerned about this for the last two years.”

A New York Times/Siena College poll last week showed that 74 percent of voters said Mr. Biden was too old to be effective, including 59 percent of Democrats.

A day after some influential House Democrats had met virtually in a private call and aired their concerns about standing behind Mr. Biden, the president’s operation began lining up and receiving more statements of support, including from some key Black lawmakers.

“I am 100 percent with the president,” Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said on MSNBC. The current chairman, Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada, issued a statement on Monday standing by Mr. Biden, too: “President Joe Biden is the nominee and has been selected by millions of voters across this country.”

Representative Grace Meng of New York, a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, also issued a supportive statement. Some of those who had criticized Mr. Biden in private were largely silent publicly, including Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, who declined to answer questions about the president at an appearance in Manhattan.

Still, Mr. Biden continued to suffer some fresh Democratic doubt on Monday.

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Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who is up for re-election this fall in a state Mr. Trump is expected to carry in a landslide, said the president “has got to prove to the American people — including me — that he’s up to the job for another four years.”

And Representative Greg Landsman of Ohio said “time is running out” for Mr. Biden, whom he said needed to be able to make his case “again and again and again.”

Mr. Biden’s next steps are expected to be the central topic of discussion on Tuesday when House Democrats are scheduled to hold a members-only briefing at party headquarters.

The central concern among many Biden allies has been the president’s ability — or inability — to handle unscripted appearances.

On Monday, a White House spokesman, John Kirby, announced that the president would also participate in what he called a “big boy press conference” on Thursday after a NATO summit.

But in a sign of the challenges ahead for the president, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, found herself batting away questions about why a Parkinson’s expert had visited the White House eight times in eight months in the same briefing.

Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s former chief of staff, who had helped him prepare for the debate, wrote on X that “it takes the right candidate” to beat Mr. Trump and that “pundits have always bet on verbally gifted opponents — Ds and Rs — who have lost.”

“Only one person has beaten him,” Mr. Klain added.

Patrick McGeehan and Nicholas Nehamas contributed reporting.

July 8, 2024, 6:44 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:44 p.m. ET

Annie Karni

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said she spoke with Biden “extensively” over the weekend and has full confidence in him. “He has made abundantly clear that he is not leaving the race," she said. "I support him and I am focused on making sure we win in November.”

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July 8, 2024, 6:31 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:31 p.m. ET

Robert Jimison

Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, said he trusts President Biden and will support whatever decision he makes. “I’ve never had reason to question his ability to be a patriot and put the country first,” he said. When asked if the party was unified, he quipped: “Democrats on the same page? Dogs and cats living together? I don’t know, you all just have to talk to us after the meeting,” referring to the Democrats' weekly lunch on Tuesday.

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July 8, 2024, 6:20 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:20 p.m. ET

Michael D. Shear

Reporting from Washington

White House briefing devolves into shouting over Biden’s health.

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Heated Exchange Over Biden’s Health at White House Briefing

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, refused to speak about several visits to the White House by a neurologist from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“The president, I can tell you, has seen a neurologist three times as it’s connected to a physical that he gets every year that we provide to all of you.” Reporter: “At least once in regards —” “I just, wait, hold on a second.” “Questions you should be able to answer by this point.” “No, no, no, no, no, no, no.” No, wait a minute, calm, Ed please, a little respect here, please. Every time he has a physical, he has had to see a neurologist. So that is answering that question.” “No, it’s not.” “No, it is, it is. You’re asking me —” [unclear] “I cannot, but I just, I also said to you, Ed, I also said to you, for security reasons, we cannot share names.” “Now, in regards to Dr. Kevin Cannard.” “Ed, I am telling you right now that I am not sharing, confirming names from here. It is a security reason. I am not going to do that, Ed. It doesn’t matter how hard you push me. It doesn’t matter how angry you get with me. I’m not going to confirm a name. It doesn’t matter if it’s even in the log. I am not going to do that from here.”

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (16)

The White House briefing room devolved into shouting on Monday as the press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, repeatedly dodged and refused to answer questions about the president’s health, and whether visits to the White House by a Parkinson’s doctor were about the president.

Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who specializes in movement disorders, visited the White House eight times in eight months, according to official visitor logs.

At 9:40 p.m. Monday, the White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, released a statement saying that “President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical” and implying that most of Dr. Cannard’s visits were related to treating other people who work at the White House.

But at the daily briefing on Monday afternoon, Ms. Jean-Pierre refused to talk about Dr. Cannard or to acknowledge his visits to the White House, even after The New York Times and other news organizations reported on the logs. She cited unexplained “security reasons” and at other times said that the doctor deserved a “measure of privacy,” even though the White House had already released his name and made the visits public.

Several reporters in the briefing room accused Ms. Jean-Pierre of withholding important information about the president’s health. The White House has been under growing criticism from fellow Democrats as well as the news media for not being more forthcoming about Mr. Biden’s physical and mental state.

“You’re not answering a very basic, direct question,” Ed O’Keefe, the White House correspondent for CBS News, shouted.

“I am telling you he has seen a neurologist three times,” Ms. Jean-Pierre insisted. “That is what I’m sharing with you. So, every time he has a physical, he has had to see a neurologist. So that is answering that question.”

“No, it’s not,” Mr. O’Keefe responded.

“No, it is. It is,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said as the two talked over each other.

“Did Dr. Kevin Cannard come to the White House specifically because of the president’s condition?” Mr. O’Keefe persisted.

“I also said to you for security reasons, we cannot share names. We cannot share names,” said Ms. Jean-Pierre, clearly shaken, “We cannot share names of specialists broadly, from a dermatologist to a neurologist.”

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“We’re miffed around here about how information has been shared with the press corps about him,” Mr. O’Keefe said, clearly angry.

“Every time, I come back and answer the questions that you guys asked,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said, prompting Mr. O’Keefe to respond: “And you answer it incorrectly and have to come back here and clean it up.”

A few minutes after the exchange, Ms. Jean-Pierre told the reporters in the room that she took offense at the way she was being questioned.

“We do our best to give you the information that we have at the time, that’s what we do,” she said, calling the questioning “really, really unfair” to her. “I do take offense to what was just happening at the beginning of this briefing. It’s not OK.”

Moments later, she added that “the personal attacks” were “not OK. I just want to be very, very clear here.”

The relationship between Ms. Jean-Pierre and reporters has often been rocky. But the mood in the briefing room has been more tense in recent days as the president fights for his political life after his politically disastrous debate on June 27.

July 8, 2024, 6:16 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:16 p.m. ET

Robert Jimison

Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said the Biden campaign is currently working to prove to supporters that the president is up for the challenge of finishing a successful campaign. When asked if he thinks it’s working, he replied: “Still thinking.”

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (18)

July 8, 2024, 6:11 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:11 p.m. ET

Maya Miller

Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, would not commit to backing President Biden as the party’s nominee, though he said he wanted Biden to succeed. But he insisted that Democrats this week must engage in discussions about how best to move the party forward. He views those discussions as “an act of loyalty, not an act of disloyalty,” he said, and added that he hopes the president views it that way too. “I have no doubt that we will unify as Democrats, whether Joe Biden is, as it appears to be, our nominee for this party, or whether for some reason it’s somebody else. We understand what the stakes are.”

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July 8, 2024, 6:05 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:05 p.m. ET

Katie Rogers

Reporting from the trail with Jill Biden

I’ve spoken with voters today at Biden campaign events in three states — Florida, North Carolina and now Georgia — and largely, it seems that people were seeking reassurance from Jill Biden that her husband would stay in the race — and that he was fit to do so after his halting debate performance. But others brushed off the debate. Jim Muldoone, 69, a longtime resident of Columbus, Ga., dismissed it as a “bad night” for the president. “He tried to stick to substance,” Muldoone said of Biden, “and the other fella was slinging” excrement, he said, using an expletive.

July 8, 2024, 5:57 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:57 p.m. ET

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, conceded that the President Biden had a “rough night” during the presidential debate, but said people should be more focused on the possibility of a Trump presidency because it would yield “four years of very rough nights.” Wyden delivered an unequivocal endorsem*nt of Biden, telling reporters that “we obviously have a lot of work to do, but that’s always the case" when it comes to mobilizing supporters.

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (21)

July 8, 2024, 5:55 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:55 p.m. ET

Tim Balk

Representative Adam Smith of Washington, who on Monday became the sixth House Democrat to publicly call on President Biden to leave the race, said he believed that an overwhelming majority of House Democrats would “breathe a sigh of relief so loud you would hear it all across the country” if the president withdrew. “There are a lot of people who would give us a much better chance of winning this election,” Smith said in interview. He suggested that some Democrats are staying silent because they believe Biden will not change his mind.

July 8, 2024, 5:53 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:53 p.m. ET

Katie Rogers

Reporting from the trail with Jill Biden

There is a large crowd of Trump supporters outside of an event venue in Columbus, Ga., where Jill Biden, the first lady, is set to speak soon. One sign held by a protester said: “Joe, will you even survive?” This is the state’s 2nd District, which is reliably Democratic and home to former President Jimmy Carter.

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Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (23)

July 8, 2024, 5:43 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:43 p.m. ET

Maya Miller

Senator Christopher Coons, Democrat of Delaware and the co-chair of President Biden’s re-election campaign, reiterated to reporters his unwavering support for the president. “I’ve known our president for 30 years, since I was an intern for him,” Mr. Coons said. “President Biden will be the nominee for my party.”

July 8, 2024, 5:42 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:42 p.m. ET

Theodore Schleifer

Preserve America, the Miriam Adelson-funded super PAC that plans to spend $100 million to help elect former President Donald J. Trump, is reserving television time beginning the week of July 26, according to AdImpact, which tracks advertising purchases. This is the group's first independent expenditure of the race, and it is starting with ads in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

July 8, 2024, 6:39 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 6:39 p.m. ET

Theodore Schleifer

Preserve America is now up to $8.1 million in ad reservations from July 26 to September 7, per AdImpact. They’ve booked $6.2 million in Pennsylvania and $1.9 million in Michigan.

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (26)

July 8, 2024, 5:32 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:32 p.m. ET

Maya Miller

Senator Joe Manchin told reporters to “let this week play out” and “see what happens” when asked how he felt about Biden staying in the race. Manchin said he needed time to confer with his colleagues after returning from the recess, especially those in tough races.

July 8, 2024, 5:28 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 5:28 p.m. ET

Robert Jimison

Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, urges his colleagues to remain unified through this process with a simple declaration on social media: “Together we stand, Divided we fall!” His message echos the frustrations of a number of Democrats on Capitol Hill who are urging their colleagues to refrain from making public statements until they gather for their first meeting conference since the debate, which is set for Tuesday morning.

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July 8, 2024, 4:57 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 4:57 p.m. ET

Catie Edmondson

Reporting from Washington

Biden’s defiant appeal fails to quiet criticism from Democrats in Congress.

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President Biden’s defiant call on Democrats in Congress on Monday to stop questioning his viability and fall in line behind his candidacy did little to quell the groundswell of skepticism within his own party that has engulfed his campaign.

As lawmakers returned to Washington after a weeklong recess, there were few signs that any of Mr. Biden’s efforts to reassure his allies — either through a bluntly worded letter or a phone interview on MSNBC — had done much to mollify growing Democratic anxieties.

Instead, ahead of a day of crucial meetings in which Democrats in the House and the Senate plan to meet separately to discuss a way forward, lawmakers were still openly agonizing over their presumptive nominee, with party divisions about the best course bursting into the open. And more prominent Democrats came forward to air their concerns about Mr. Biden’s path to victory in November.

“With so much at stake in the upcoming election, now is the time for conversations about the strongest path forward,” Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. “As these conversations continue, I believe it is incumbent upon the president to more aggressively make his case to the American people, and to hear directly from a broader group of voices about how to best prevent Trump’s lawlessness from returning to the White House.”

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, a member of Democratic leadership and the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said in a lengthy statement that despite her “strong respect” for Mr. Biden, “we need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate on the campaign trail in the very near future in order for him to convince voters he is up to the job.”

“At this critical time for our country, President Biden must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future,” Ms. Murray said.

And Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, became the latest — and perhaps the most high profile — lawmaker to say publicly that Mr. Biden should step aside, after first saying so in a private meeting of top House Democrats on Sunday.

“I think it’s become clear that he’s not the best person to carry the Democratic message,” Mr. Smith said on Monday in an interview on CNN, adding, “Personally, I think Kamala Harris would be a much better, stronger candidate.”

Mr. Biden began the day by firing off a missive that was aimed at tamping down any further calls for him to step aside and put an end to the hand-wringing on Capitol Hill.

“The question of how we move forward has been well aired for over a week now,” Mr. Biden wrote in his two-page letter to lawmakers. “And it’s time for it to end.”

But there was no end in sight on Capitol Hill, where even as some Democrats in Congress rallied to Mr. Biden’s side, many others said they still had questions.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, whose victory in 2022 tipped control of the Senate to Democrats, said in a statement that Mr. Biden “always had Nevadans’ backs, whether it’s on the picket lines, protecting our personal freedoms or lowering costs — now it’s time for us to have his.”

And Mr. Biden’s bloc of strong support from the Congressional Black Caucus grew, as its chairman, Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada, released a statement defending the president.

“President Biden is the nominee and has been selected by millions of voters across this country, including voters in Nevada,” he wrote in a social media post, adding that voters “know President Biden and Vice President Harris are fighting for them.”

Mr. Biden met virtually on Monday evening with the Black Caucus, an influential group on Capitol Hill, moving to capitalize on the support and perhaps discourage others from breaking with a powerful piece of the Democratic coalition.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who said she spoke with Biden “extensively” over the weekend, expressed full confidence in him.

“He has made abundantly clear that he is not leaving the race,” she said. “I support him and I am focused on making sure we win in November.”

The overall mood in Congress, though, was much more dour as lawmakers making their way back to Washington for the first time since Mr. Biden’s disastrous debate performance quietly fretted about his ability to defeat former President Donald J. Trump and the drag he might have on Democratic candidates running for House and Senate seats if he continued his campaign.

Many Democratic senators have long considered Mr. Biden, a creature of the Senate who served there for more than three decades, a personal friend and ally. But most have suggested that the onus is on the president to dispel any concerns among voters about his age and fitness.

Some appeared reluctant to say much on the matter before Tuesday, when Democratic senators plan to discuss Mr. Biden’s future at their weekly closed-door party luncheon. House Democrats are expected to have a similar discussion on Tuesday morning at their weekly party meeting. But those who did speak up made it clear they had major concerns about Mr. Biden continuing as the party’s candidate.

“I love Joe Biden,” Senator Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, said in what has become a typical statement among his colleagues. “He’s the most accomplished president of my lifetime and he’s a genuinely wonderful human being. However, what I care most about is the preservation of our democracy.”

Mr. Heinrich, who is up for re-election this year, continued: “President Biden needs to continue to demonstrate that his debate performance was just a bad night, and that he has a clear path to defeating Donald Trump. Our democracy hangs in the balance.”

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado also would not commit to backing Mr. Biden as the party’s nominee, saying that Democrats needed to discuss the best way to win the White House and both chambers of Congress. “I want him to succeed,” Mr. Bennet said.

Jettisoning Mr. Biden, he continued, would be “no one’s first choice.”

“But we have a moral obligation to the country to establish that we can win the presidency, that we can win the House and that we can win the Senate,” he said. “We have to do that. We are here this week to have that conversation.”

Others offered terse endorsem*nts. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has mostly repeated a clipped message of approval over the last week. “I’m with Joe,” he told reporters on Monday as he entered the Capitol. “I have no interest in walking away from him,” Senator Thomas R. Carper, Democrat of Delaware, told reporters outside his office.

And Senate Democrats running in the most politically treacherous races across the country, including Ohio and Montana, declined to provide any political cover for the president.

When Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio was asked during a campaign stop about whether Mr. Biden should run for re-election, he replied, “I’m not a pundit.”

“I’ve talked to people across Ohio,” Mr. Brown said. “They have legitimate questions about whether the president should continue his campaign, and I’ll keep listening to people.”

And Senator Jon Tester of Montana issued a statement saying that Mr. Biden “has got to prove to the American people — including me — that’s he’s up to the job for another four years.”

Robert Jimison, Annie Karni and Maya C. Miller contributed reporting.

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July 8, 2024, 3:57 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 3:57 p.m. ET

Maggie Astor

Whitmer says she won’t run even if Biden steps aside.

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As President Biden continued to work on Monday to tamp down Democratic calls for him to end his campaign, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, one of the most prominent officials whose name has been floated as an alternative, ruled it out.

Ms. Whitmer was asked in an interview with The Associated Press whether she would consider running in the hypothetical event that Mr. Biden stepped aside. She said no.

The speculation is “a distraction more than anything,” she said. “I don’t like seeing my name in articles like that because I’m totally focused on governing and campaigning” for the existing ticket of Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Her office did not respond to a request from The New York Times to confirm her comments.

Ms. Whitmer is one of several governors who are widely believed to have ambitions to run for president in a future election, and who have been repeatedly named as possible candidates in the event that Mr. Biden ended his campaign, which he has said forcefully that he will not do.

Other Democratic governors who have been eyed nationally are making their support of Mr. Biden clear.

Nathan Click, a spokesman for Gavin Newsom of California, said Mr. Newsom had “addressed this repeatedly” as he campaigned for Mr. Biden in recent days. At an event in Michigan on Thursday, he said, “I don’t even like playing in the hypotheticals.”

Mike Ollen, an aide to Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, said similarly: “There’s no point in engaging in these hypotheticals. As Joe Biden has said, he is our nominee and J.B. remains all-in on defeating Donald Trump in November.”

And Manuel Bonder, a spokesman for Gov. Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, pointed to an interview last year in which the local news outlet KDKA asked Mr. Shapiro whether he would consider running if Mr. Biden didn’t. Mr. Shapiro said then, “The answer is no.”

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July 8, 2024, 3:40 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 3:40 p.m. ET

Katie Rogers

Reporting from the trail with Jill Biden

Jill Biden visits three states in a day, assuring voters Biden is ‘all in.’

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Jill Biden Says She Is ‘All In’ on Husband’s Re-election Bid

During a speech in North Carolina, Jill Biden said that she supports President Biden.

For all the talk out there about this race, Joe has made it clear that he’s all in. That’s the decision that he’s made. And just as he has always supported my career, I am all in too.

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (31)

Jill Biden, the first lady, echoed President Biden on Monday in his the-discussion-is-over position that he would stay in the presidential race.

While Mr. Biden stared down his own party back in Washington and called into a preferred television show, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” to reiterate that he was staying in the race, Dr. Biden said as much during a one day, three-state campaign swing in North Carolina, Florida and Georgia.

“For all the talk out there about this race, Joe has made it clear that he’s all in,” Dr. Biden told a crowd at a brewery in Wilmington, N.C. “That’s the decision he’s made, and just as he has always supported my career, I am all in too. I know you are too or you wouldn’t be here today. And with four more years, Joe will continue to fight for you.”

Her stops were officially about shoring up support for her husband among military families and tying it to Joining Forces, an initiative Dr. Biden has championed since she was second lady in the Obama administration. But the whirlwind trip was just as much about reassuring shaken supporters of her husband that both Bidens were still campaigning to win.

Madeline Schildwachter, a 38-year-old grant writer whose husband had been sent on four combat deployments while in the Marines, walked away from the event with her hand on her chest and saying aloud to herself, “That felt good, we’re OK.”

Ms. Schildwachter, who is a Biden supporter but not a campaign volunteer, said she had attended the first lady’s event solely to see for herself whether the Bidens were still in the race.

“I think that everybody needed a little dose of motivation,” she said. “So much is filtered through a media lens, but I do feel that Jill’s energy is different in person. You can feel what she meant.”

On her next stop, in Tampa, Fla., voters said they were encouraged to see the first lady but said they wanted Mr. Biden to be the one making the case directly to them. Madison Janner, a 20-year-old who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., said she was not sure that she would vote for Mr. Biden after the debate.

“Honestly, that’s part of the reason I came here,” she said. “I do feel like I need some reassurance right now. I’m a registered Democrat, and I personally thought I was going to vote for Biden, but I don’t know what to think at this point.”

She added, “What would reassure me is seeing our president perform and not someone coming out for him.”

First ladies are generally expected to be comforter-in-chief types in times of national tragedy or unrest. But it is rare to see one called upon to quell widespread fear and concern within her own party about the president’s ability to lead the country.

The vigorous campaign schedule of Dr. Biden stands in stark contrast to Melania Trump, the former first lady who has not joined her husband, former President Donald J. Trump, on the campaign trail. She did not attend the debate between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump in Atlanta, though she is scheduled to attend a Log Cabin Republicans fund-raiser at her home in Trump Tower in New York on Monday.

The Bidens still have an uphill battle in convincing those within his own party whether Mr. Biden, who is 81, is fit for a second term. In recent days, several House Democrats have called for Mr. Biden to step down, and more were expected to do so as lawmakers returned to Washington from a summer recess.

Columnists and pundits have called on Mr. Biden to drop out, fueling an attitude within Mr. Biden’s White House and campaign that Mr. Biden should be focused more on average voters than the “elites” that frustrate him, as he said on “Morning Joe.” Within the White House, several aides, many of whom have been dejected since Mr. Biden’s disastrous debate performance in Atlanta, had mixed reactions to the president’s decision to call in to the show.

The first lady dodged questions from reporters traveling with her about what she would say to Democrats who have called for her husband to drop out.

“Why are you screaming at me?” she asked reporters outside of a coffee shop in Tampa. “You know me. Don’t scream at me. Just let me talk.” She declined to answer the question.

A person directly familiar with Mr. Biden’s thinking said on Monday that the president was still staunchly in the race and would not leave it without a protracted fight. But that person also said that Mr. Biden has been warned by some close to him this is still a crucial phase and that his ability to remain the Democratic candidate is not a sure thing.

For her part, the first lady remains the closest person to the president — not an adviser, but his spouse of 47 years — and she would be a decisive voice in any decision he would make to stay in the race or leave it.

She has been solidly in the stay-in camp, as is Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who has been informally advising his father in recent days.

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Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (32)

July 8, 2024, 2:28 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 2:28 p.m. ET

Theodore Schleifer,Reid J. Epstein,Lauren Hirsch and Shane Goldmacher

Theodore Schleifer and Reid J. Epstein reported from Washington, and Lauren Hirsch and Shane Goldmacher from New York.

Biden tries to soothe his top fund-raisers on a private call.

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President Biden spoke directly to some of his biggest fund-raisers and donors on Monday, repeating his assertion that he was staying in the race and telling them they needed to shift the focus of the campaign away from him and onto former President Donald J. Trump.

“We can’t waste any more time being distracted,” Mr. Biden said, according to a video recording of the meeting viewed by The New York Times. “I have one job and that’s to beat Donald Trump — to beat Donald. I’m absolutely certain that I’m the best person to be able to do that. We’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bull’s-eye.”

The president spent four minutes reading remarks to donors and another 14 responding to four questions. His appearance amounted to the most formal entreaty to his financiers since his poor debate performance over a week ago that they should stay the course.

His appearance, which was announced to his fund-raisers just 24 minutes before the call was set to begin, came after he sent a defiant letter to congressional Democrats on Monday morning rejecting the idea that he should drop out and gave an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in which he invited challengers to try to stop him at the party’s convention next month.

Mr. Biden took four questions on the donor call, with the gentle inquisitors announced by Rufus Gifford, his campaign’s finance chair, about how the president planned to proceed as a candidate.

One asked for a 30-second elevator pitch to relay to voters, to which Mr. Biden replied with a nearly two-minute soliloquy. Another sought to understand how Mr. Biden could weather this round of media criticism. A third wanted to know how he would handle the next debate.

Mr. Biden described his post-debate swing of appearances — rallies in North Carolina and Wisconsin, an interview with ABC News and a Sunday visit to a Black church in Philadelphia across 10 days — as evidence of a robust campaign schedule.

“The idea that Biden needs a teleprompter, Biden needs a script, all these events I did were just Biden taking questions,” Mr. Biden said, in an exaggeration of the amount of unscripted moments in his post-debate public events.

The president told the donors that his future campaign plans would look more like a local candidate hustling for attention and votes than a commander in chief seeking re-election.

“I’m going to the people,” he said. “I’m going out and I’m going to demonstrate all across the country that I’m going to be campaigning as if I’m running for the Senate.”

As pressure has built within the Democratic Party for Mr. Biden to step aside, several groups of donors have begun to agitate for a different nominee, though many wealthy Democrats remain unsure whether they have any leverage. Mr. Biden and his top aides have sought to position the effort to remove him from the ticket as a phenomenon driven by the party’s wealthy elite.

Democratic panic has enveloped Mr. Biden and his campaign team since the debate, with an intense focus on his mental acuity amid questions about his ability to energetically campaign and serve as president for another four years — the subject of an interview he held on Friday with ABC News.

On the Monday call, Mr. Biden implored his donors to switch the focus back to Mr. Trump — a pivot Democrats have demanded in recent days in an attempt to change the subject from Mr. Biden’s own fitness.

“Attack, attack, attack, attack,” Mr. Biden said when asked about the next debate and how he would change his preparation and framing.

Mr. Biden also offered his first public comments on the legislative elections in France, in which a far-left coalition surged even as the far right slumped and President Emmanuel Macron’s party lost seats.

“One of the things that’s happening around the world is the extreme right, the extreme MAGA conservatives of France, the Le Pen party and others, they’re getting killed, they’re getting kicked because people are going, ‘Woah, we’re not going there,’” Mr. Biden said.

The call, which also included Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland and Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, the president’s campaign chair, began more than 30 minutes late, with irritated donors stewing in front of blank Zoom screens. Opinions of Mr. Biden’s performance were mixed — several participants told The Times that Mr. Biden had some bright, reassuring moments, while others were left unsatisfied and perturbed, especially by the screening of questions.

Mr. Biden was also asked about the unsparing media criticism of his debate performance and his communications strategy to beat that. One donor implored him to combat the narrative by bringing back “Scranton Joe,” his blue-collar political persona from Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden replied that he had overcome doubts before.

“Look, the press in 2020 said I couldn’t win,” Mr. Biden said. “Remember that, in 2020? I couldn’t win.”

At one point, Mr. Biden fielded a question from a woman who said that she would crawl across broken glass for him, but she added that she wanted to know what his elevator-pitch message would be for activists as they knock on doors.

Mr. Biden talked about his record and said to tell people he also came from a middle-class background, referring to himself as “Joe Biden” in the third person and suggesting that he would work to bring down health-care costs, among other things.

Mr. Biden was also asked about Project 2025, an effort by Mr. Trump’s allies to reshape the federal government and put far more power in his hands if he wins back the presidency. Mr. Biden said his campaign would spend significant amounts of money to spread a negative message about Mr. Trump’s second-term agenda, despite the former president’s attempts to distance himself from the effort, which was spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation and some of his former aides.

“There’s going to be open war on the gay and lesbian community,” Mr. Biden said in response to a question about Project 2025 from Bryan Rafanelli, a donor who in 2023 hosted Jill Biden, the first lady, for a fund-raiser at his home in Provincetown, Mass.

The National Finance Committee consists of a wide range of Democratic donors, including some of the wealthiest people in the country, as well as a number of upper-middle-class liberal activists who are less well-known but host Mr. Biden when he comes to town.

The call was hastily scheduled just the day before, and some fund-raisers, still returning from July 4 holiday vacations, complained about the lack of notice. Last Monday evening, Ms. O’Malley Dillon offered a similar call to about 500 of Mr. Biden’s top fund-raisers, during which the campaign offered few pieces of new information but encouraged a general attitude of patience and calm. A week later, the campaign decided that it needed Mr. Biden himself to soothe donors’ anxiety.

Kate Kelly, Shane Goldmacher and Kenneth P. Vogel contributed reporting.

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July 8, 2024, 12:49 p.m. ET

July 8, 2024, 12:49 p.m. ET

Emily Baumgaertner and Peter Baker

Emily Baumgaertner is the national health care correspondent. Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent.

A Parkinson’s expert visited the White House eight times in eight months.

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An expert on Parkinson’s disease from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center visited the White House eight times in eight months from last summer through this spring, including at least once for a meeting with President Biden’s physician, according to official visitor logs.

The expert, Dr. Kevin Cannard, is a neurologist who specializes in movement disorders and recently published a paper on Parkinson’s. The logs, released by the White House, document visits from July 2023 through March of this year. More recent visits, if there have been any, would not be released until later under the White House’s voluntary disclosure policy.

It was unclear whether Dr. Cannard was at the White House to consult specifically about the president or was there for unrelated meetings. Dr. Cannard’s LinkedIn page describes him as “supporting the White House Medical Unit” for more than 12 years. His biography on Doximity, a website for health professionals, lists him as a “neurology consultant to the White House Medical Unit and the physician to the president” from 2012 to 2022, which would include the administrations of Presidents Barack Obama and Donald J. Trump.

Records from the Obama administration, when Mr. Biden was vice president, show that Dr. Cannard made at least 10 visits in 2012 plus a family tour; four in 2013; one in 2014; four in 2015; and eight in 2016. Mr. Trump rescinded Mr. Obama’s voluntary White House visitors disclosure policy, so records are not available for his four years in office.

Dr. Cannard did not respond to repeated requests for comment. In a statement released at 9:40 p.m. on Monday, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician, confirmed that Dr. Cannard had seen Mr. Biden three times during the three and a half years of his presidency, but did not directly say whether any of his other visits were related to consulting on the president’s health.

Instead, Dr. O’Connor implied that most of Dr. Cannard’s visits were related to treating other people who work at the White House. “Prior to the pandemic, and following its end, he has held regular neurology clinics at the White House Medical Clinic in support of the thousands of active-duty members assigned in support of White House operations,” Dr. O’Connor wrote.

Confirming what a White House spokesman said earlier in the day, Dr. O’Connor said that Mr. Biden had seen Dr. Cannard each year as part of his overall annual physical checkup and that the latest examination had found no sign of Parkinson’s. “President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical,” Dr. O’Connor wrote.

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Dr. Cannard met on Jan. 17 with Dr. O’Connor as well as Dr. John Atwood, a cardiologist at Walter Reed, and another person in the early evening in the White House residence clinic, the logs showed. That meeting came a month before Mr. Biden underwent his most recent annual physical checkup at Walter Reed on Feb. 28.

In a six-page letter released after that checkup, Dr. O’Connor said the president’s medical team had conducted “an extremely detailed neurologic exam” that had yielded “no findings which would be consistent with” Parkinson’s, stroke or other central neurological disorders. Dr. O’Connor did not say whether the examination contained common tests for assessing cognitive decline or detecting signs of dementia that are often recommended for older adults.

The White House has said in recent days that there has been no reason to conduct further examination since February. Questions about Mr. Biden’s health, and specifically about Parkinson’s, have proliferated since his disastrous debate performance against Mr. Trump on June 27. In interviews with ABC News on Friday and MSNBC on Monday, Mr. Biden said he had the equivalent of a neurological exam every day because of the pressure of presidential duties.

The visitor logs, which have also been reported by other news organizations, including The New York Post and The Guardian, indicated that Dr. Cannard’s first recorded visit to the White House during the Biden administration was on Nov. 15, 2022. The records indicate that he was visiting Joshua Simmons, whose title is not listed.

Dr. Cannard’s eight more recent visits started on July 28, 2023, when he was listed as meeting with Megan Nasworthy, a White House liaison to Walter Reed. She was listed as the person visited for seven of those meetings, which consistently occurred early, between 7 and 9 a.m. on Fridays, with the exception of the last meeting, which occurred on Thursday, March 28, the day before Good Friday. The logs note a 10th visit that appeared to be for a family tour of the White House.

Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said that while the president always travels with regular doctors, “he has not seen specialists in Delaware,” where he has private residences.

Around the time of the first meetings, Dr. Cannard published a research paper in the journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders on the early stages of Parkinson's.

An array of neurologists who have not personally examined Mr. Biden said they observed symptoms in his public appearances that were consistent with Parkinson’s or a related disease, such as hypophonic speech, forward flexed posture, a shuffling gait, masked face and irregular speech pattern. But they emphasized that a specific diagnosis could not be given without firsthand examination.

White House officials said that Mr. Biden had shown no signs of Parkinson’s and that Dr. O’Connor found no reason to re-evaluate Mr. Biden for the disease since his physical in February. Mr. Bates also said the president has never taken Levodopa or other drugs for that condition.

In his interview with ABC News on Friday, Mr. Biden declined to agree to an independent neurological and cognitive exam. “I get a cognitive test every day,” he said, meaning that the exceptional challenges of the presidency effectively tested him on a daily basis.

Calling into “Morning Joe” on MSNBC on Monday morning, Mr. Biden insisted again that his confusion and halting performance at the debate were an aberration due in part to an infection or other minor ailment, and were not a sign of a larger medical issue.

“If there was something that was wrong that night, it’s not like it comes and that’s one night and it goes away,” he said. “That’s why I’ve been out. I’ve been testing myself, testing everywhere I go. Going out and making the case. The night of that debate, I went out. I was out until 2 o’clock in the morning that very night. That very night. It drives me nuts, people talking about this.”

Live Election Updates: Biden Aggressively Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out (2024)

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