Biden insists ‘I’m not leaving’ while allies prepare for end of his campaign

President Joe Biden has insisted to his campaign staff that no one is pushing him out and that he’s “not leaving” his re-election campaign after multiple reports have suggested that he is preparing to drop out if he fails crucial campaign tests in the days and weeks ahead.

“Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can, as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running,” he reportedly told campaign staff on a call on Wednesday.

“No one’s pushing me out,” he said. “I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win.”

The president reportedly admitted that he will have to end his re-election campaign if he cannot convince voters that he is up for the job after his flailing performance at last week’s debate against Donald Trump.

A key ally to the president told The New York Times that while Biden remains committed to the race, his next several crucial public appearances could shape his plans for 2024.

Biden is scheduled for an interview with ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on Friday followed by campaign stops in critical swing states Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“He knows if he has two more events like that, we’re in a different place” by the end of the weekend, according to the ally, speaking anonymously to The Times.

White House senior deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told The Independent “that claim is absolutely false.”

“If the New York Times had provided us with more than seven minutes to comment we would have told them so,” he added.

A spokesperson for Biden’s campaign told The Independent that the report is “wrong”.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the reporting is “absolutely” false.

But an ally also told CNN that Mr Biden remains “clear-eyed” about his viability in the aftermath of his abysmal debate performance.

“The polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly,” the person told the network. “He’s not oblivious.”

President Joe Biden prepares to deliver remarks at the White House on 1 July (Getty)
President Joe Biden prepares to deliver remarks at the White House on 1 July (Getty)

The statements appear to be the first from within the president’s camp that suggest he is mulling his departure from the race, as polling shows him slipping considerably in his rematch against his twice-impeached and criminally convicted Republican rival.

Biden’s campaign team and White House chief of staff Jeff Zients have each called all-hands meetings with staff on Wednesday.

The president is also meeting with Democratic governors at the White House on Wednesday, as party officials across the country fear that the president’s shrinking chances of victory imperil other down-ballot Democratic races.

Major newspaper editorials and prominent allies have argued that the president should end his re-election campaign, or that his campaign and the Democratic Party should seriously confront nosediving poll numbers and growing concerns about the president’s age and future.

Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas is the first Democratic member of Congress to urge Mr Biden to leave the race, warning in a statement on Tuesday that “too much is at stake to risk a Trump victory”, and that it is “too great a risk to assume that what could not be turned around in a year, what was not turned around in the debate, can be turned around now”.

Former president Barack Obama, who has maintained a close relationship with his former vice-president, has also reportedly privately raised concerns about Mr Biden’s chances of re-election.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say, ‘Is this an episode or is this a condition’,” former House speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC on Tuesday.

In an op-ed for Newsweek, former Democratic congressman Tim Ryan called on vice-president Kamala Harris to replace Biden as the party’s nominee.

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and son Hunter Biden, left, arrive in Washington DC on 1 July (AP)
President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and son Hunter Biden, left, arrive in Washington DC on 1 July (AP)

White House staff and others have reportedly also been baffled by the presence of Hunter Biden at the executive mansion in recent days.

Ms Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that Hunter traveled with his father back to the White House from Camp David and joined meetings to prepare for Mr Biden’s response to a massive Supreme Court ruling that granted Mr Trump some immunity from criminal prosecution.

Mr Biden’s exhaustive debate preparations followed back-to-back trips to Europe. But he spent time with family and advisers for six days, never beginning before 11am, and his team allowed Mr Biden time for an afternoon nap each day, according to The New York Times.

“I didn’t have my best night,” Mr Biden quipped to supporters at a campaign event on Tuesday night. “I decided to travel around the world a couple of times, going through I don’t know how many time zones – I figure it was about 50 time zones – in the couple of weeks before the debate.”

“And I didn’t listen to my staff,” he added. “And I came back and I fell asleep onstage.”

In a relatively energized campaign rally speech the day after the debate, Mr Biden admitted that he doesn’t speak or debate as well as he used to, but “I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. I know how to do this job”.