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Interview Seemed Not to Change Democratic Officials’ Views on Biden, Either Way

Internashonal

Interview Seemed Not to Change Democratic Officials’ Views on Biden, Either Way


President Biden had planned to use his first televised interview since his poor debate performance to reassure supporters and quiet the voices within the Democratic Party calling for him to drop out.

But many Democrats who spoke out after the interview, which aired on ABC News on Friday night, signaled that it had done little to shift their stances, regardless of whether they thought Mr. Biden should remain in the race or drop out.

A handful of current and former Democratic officials who had called on Mr. Biden to end his re-election campaign said the interview had done little, or even nothing, to address their concerns. Reliable supporters of the president’s re-election campaign similarly fanned out to television networks, declaring once more that they were sticking with Mr. Biden.

Other Democrats who had raised concerns about the president’s performance, but had not gone as far as to call for Mr. Biden to drop out, said the interview did not significantly change their views of his candidacy.

The president’s critics among the Democrats, including those asking him to step aside, said Mr. Biden appeared to be out of touch or in denial about his prospects for re-election.

Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who was the first House Democrat to call for President Biden to drop out of the race, said in an interview on CNN shortly after the ABC broadcast that “the need for him to step aside is more urgent tonight than when I first called for it on Tuesday.” He added that Mr. Biden “does not want his legacy to be that he’s the one who turned over our country to a tyrant.”

Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, also said Mr. Biden should step aside, telling CNN that he found points in the interview “disturbing” and that it was clear “the president of the United States doesn’t have the vigor necessary to overcome the deficit here.”

“He felt as long as he gave it his best effort, that’s all that really matters,” Mr. Quigley said, recounting Mr. Biden’s description of how he would feel if he lost to former President Donald J. Trump. “With the greatest respect: No.”

A handful of Democratic lawmakers who have consistently supported Mr. Biden said soon after the interview that they would stick with the president. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a chair of the Biden campaign, and Representative Robert Garcia of California said they were ready to help the president win re-election in November.

Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who has repeatedly sought to rally Democrats behind the president with expletive-laden posts on social media, said, “Democrats need to get a spine or grow a set — one or the other,” adding, “Joe Biden is our guy.”

Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, a longtime ally of Mr. Biden, said on social media on Friday night that “Joe Biden is who our country needs.”

And Representative Nanette Barragán, Democrat of California and the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who had backed Mr. Biden, telling CNN earlier on Friday that Democrats “shouldn’t be talking about” replacing him. Later in the evening, Ms. Barragán continued to defend Mr. Biden.

“Sounds like everyone is looking for concerns — I don’t see them,” she said. “He’s quick to respond. He’s on point. He clearly understands the questions and the topics and responds accordingly. It’s a tough interview, and I think he handled it well.”

Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California and a Biden surrogate, said in a statement that he expected more from Mr. Biden to earn the trust of voters — and “that requires more than one interview.”

“I expect complete transparency from the White House about this issue,” Mr. Khanna said, “and a willingness to answer many legitimate questions from the media and voters about his capabilities.”

Julián Castro, the former Democratic presidential candidate who has called for Mr. Biden to drop out, criticized the president after the interview, telling MSNBC that Mr. Biden had been “steadier” in the interview but was in “denial about the decline that people can clearly see.”

Former Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who also has said that Mr. Biden should step aside, said after the interview, “I don’t think he moved the needle at all.”

“I don’t think he energized anybody,” Mr. Ryan said on MSNBC. “I think there was a level of him being out of touch with reality on the ground.”

“I’m worried,” he continued, with a nervous chuckle. “I’m worried, like, I think a lot of people are, that he is just not the person to be able to get this done for us.”

Mark Buell, a prominent donor for Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party who had raised questions about the president’s performance at the debate, said in a text message that “Biden is on a slide that he is trying to curb. If he isn’t successful, he may soon become a verb.”

Maya C. Miller, Robert Jimison and Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting from Washington. Simon J. Levien contributed reporting from Massachusetts.



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