Biden, campaigning in Wisconsin, defies calls to quit: “Completely rejecting it”

President Biden had a message Friday for Democrats and others calling for him to drop his re-election bid after last week’s debate: “I’m going to run, and I’m going to win again.”

Speaking to supporters in battleground Wisconsin on Friday, the president reiterated that he would not force himself to become the Democratic presidential nominee. A startling debate performance. After a week of working to alleviate concerns about his fitness for the second time, Mr. Biden stood his ground.

“Now, you may have heard that we had a little debate last week,” the president said after taking the stage in Madison. “I wouldn’t say it was my best performance. But since then, there’s been a lot of speculation. What’s Joe going to do? Is he going to stay in the race? Is he going to quit, what’s he going to do. Well, here’s my answer: I’m going to run, I’m going to win again.”

The president cited the results of the primary process, which was tightly controlled by the Democratic Party and featured no serious challenges to his renomination.

“I’m the nominee of the Democratic Party,” the president said. “You voted for me to be your candidate and no one else. You, the voters, did it. And yet, some people don’t seem to care who you voted for. Well, guess what: They’re trying to push I’m out of the race, and I’ll make it as clear as I can: I’m in the race. “

President Biden speaks during a campaign event on July 5, 2024 in Madison, Wisconsin.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Although his voice was much stronger than last week’s debate, the president still stumbled.

“I’m running. I’ll beat Donald Trump. I’ll beat him again in 2020,” the president said, before correcting himself to “2024.”

Behind the president, a group of energetic supporters held a young man holding placards that read, “Pass the Jojo Torch.” Someone else in the stand covered his sign and the young man crushed it.

At the airport following the speech, a reporter asked the president if he was still considering dropping out of the race or if he was ruling it out entirely.

Mr. Biden said.

The president said he spoke with “at least 20” members of Congress after the debate. He also told reporters that he hopes to stay in office for another four years.

An important stretch for Biden

Following the cancellation of a debate against former President Donald Trump, Mr. Biden’s public appearances have come under renewed scrutiny, and a rally in Wisconsin will kick off a crucial weekend that promises Democrats he can stay in the race.

In Wisconsin, Mr. Biden is taping an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that will air Friday night. The president will travel to Philadelphia for another campaign event on Sunday and visit a second battleground state over the July 4 holiday weekend.

Democrats who spoke before the president in Madison noted the challenging political environment.

“What a week,” said Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wigler. “What a week. First, let’s face it — tough debate. One guy needs a lozenge, the other guy needs a lie detector and a conscience and a reminder that he’s not running for dictator of North Korea.”

“It’s going to come down to a few states, and Wisconsin is one of those states,” Democratic Representative Mark Bogan said. “Don’t think for a second that this is all going to be easy. In the past week, some say the election ice rocked the world, but you know what hasn’t been shaken? The people.”

In a pair of radio interviews that aired Thursday, Mr. Biden admitted that he had a “bad debate” and that he “turned around.”

Mr. Biden’s campaign and the White House tried to brush off concerns about his lackluster performance by insisting that he had a cold and that the debate was a “bad night.” Mr. He and Vice President Kamala Harris, as part of efforts to calm concerns about Biden and his age Attended a call Wednesday with campaign staff, and they He met 20 Democratic governors That evening at the White House. Mr. Biden spoke with the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, as well as other key allies on Capitol Hill.

One of the governors who attended the White House meeting, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healy, has been Mr. He praised Biden for his work and reiterated his determination to defeat Trump in November. But Healy urged the president to explore a path forward.

“The best way forward now is for the president to decide,” he said in a statement. “In the coming days, I urge him to listen to the American people and carefully evaluate whether he is our best hope to defeat Donald Trump.”

According to participants, the president has maintained the same message throughout the outreach: He’s in the race to beat Trump, and he won’t be pushed out.

In a radio interview Thursday with “The Earl Ingram Show,” which airs in Wisconsin, Mr. Biden said, “I learned from my father, if you get knocked down, get back up, get back up.” “You know we’re going to win this election, we’re going to beat Donald Trump.”

Amid the assurances, a few House Democrats remain open Mr. Called Biden Reps. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Raul Grijalva of Arizona must withdraw from the presidential race. Others, meanwhile, have publicly urged the president to take steps to prove to voters, elected Democrats and party donors that he deserves a second term in the White House.

Sen. from Virginia. Mr. Mark Warner, along with his Democratic colleagues. A senator contacted by Warner told CBS News on Thursday that he has been talking about finding ways to sideline Biden and allow others to seek the nomination.

The senator says Warner’s outreach is “nothing formal. There’s no formal plan, at least not yet.”

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