July 14, 2024, 7:12 pm

Biden’s family tells him to stay in US presidential race

  • Update Time : Monday, July 1, 2024
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Int’l Desk:

The family of United States President Joe Biden has told him to stay in the race for a second term in office despite a disastrous debate performance, as some family members criticised how his staff had prepared him for last week’s face-off against challenger Donald Trump.

Biden spent Sunday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, with the first lady, Jill Biden, his children and grandchildren.

While the trip was scheduled previously for a shoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz for the upcoming Democratic National Convention, it also became an exercise in trying to figure out how to quell party anxiety following Thursday’s dismal showing.

While his family was aware of how poorly the 81-year-old performed against Trump, they also think he remains the best person to beat the Republican and that he is capable of doing the job of president for another four years, the Associated Press news agency reported, citing people who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorised to speak publicly about internal discussions.

Jill Biden and his son Hunter, the people he listens to most in the world, were among the most vociferous supporters, the AP added.

The New York Times, quoting people close to the situation, also said that Biden’s family was urging him to stay in the race and keep fighting. The paper said some of the family privately expressed exasperation at how his staff had prepared him for Thursday night’s event.

Calls for Biden to step aside have continued since Thursday when the president appeared raspy, trailed off and at times gave convoluted answers.

According to a CBS News poll conducted in the two days following the debate, nearly three-quarters of registered voters in the US now believe Biden should not be running for president, including 46 percent of Democrats.

“The unfortunate truth is that Biden should withdraw from the race, for the good of the nation he has served so admirably for half a century,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said in an editorial on Sunday. “The shade of retirement is now necessary for President Biden.”

The day after the debate, the New York Times’s editorial board also called on Biden to step aside.

PRESIDENTIAL RECORD

The president has stepped up campaigning since the television debate. On Friday, he delivered a fiery campaign speech in North Carolina in which he pledged to keep fighting, before going on to six more election events in four different states.

The Biden campaign has reported raising $33m since the debate, including $26m from grassroots donors.

No major party figures have broken ranks to call for Biden to step down, with prominent Democrats including past presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton voicing full-throated support. Prominent party members continued to speak out for Biden as he huddled with his family.

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

Raphael Warnock also backed Biden.

“Bad debates happen,” he told NBC’s Meet the Press programme. “The question is, ‘Who has Donald Trump ever shown up for other than himself and people like himself?’ I’m with Joe Biden and it’s our assignment to make sure that he gets over the finish line come November.”

Warnock, like Clyburn and others, highlighted 77-year-old Trump’s many lies during the debate, including about the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, immigration and the outcome of the 2020 election.

“Whenever his mouth was moving, he was lying,” Warnock said of Trump, who was convicted in May on all 34 counts in a criminal trial over hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Still, other Democrats held open the possibility of choosing a different presidential candidate. At this point in the delegate process, that would probably mean Biden having to decide to drop out.

Representative Jamie Raskin, a prominent Democrat in Congress, told MSNBC that “very honest and serious and rigorous conversations” were taking place within the party.

“Whether he’s the candidate or someone else is the candidate, he’s going to be the keynote speaker at our convention. He will be the figure that we rally around to move forward,” Raskin said.

Former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who served for more than two decades with Biden in the Senate, called the debate “a disaster from which Biden cannot recover”.

Harkin suggested that Democratic senators in pivotal races and “maybe all incumbent Democratic Senators should pen a letter to Biden asking him to release his delegates and step aside so the convention can choose a new candidate”, according to an email to supporters that was obtained by the AP.

It was first referenced in Iowa journalist Julie Gammack’s column on Saturday, Iowa Potluck.

“This is a perilous time, and is more important than the ego or desires of Joe Biden to stay as President,” Harkin concluded.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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