Clyburn says Biden should ‘stay the course’ despite debate performance

Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) is swatting away arguments that President Biden should step down from the Democratic ticket after his subpar debate performance Thursday evening, contending that the incumbent should “stay the course.”

Clyburn — who is widely considered responsible for Biden’s crucial primary victory in South Carolina that propelled him to the nomination in 2020 — said he thought Biden had a “poor performance” at the debate, calling it “strike one.”

“If this were a ball game he’s got two more swings,” he added.

But when asked about remarks from Democrats that the incumbent should step aside, the longtime House member urged the president to plow ahead.

“Stay the course,” Clyburn said when asked to respond to calls for Biden to leave the top of the ticket. “Chill out.”

Clyburn said he would “probably” speak with Biden later on Friday and would deliver the “stay the course” message.

The show of support from Clyburn came less than 24 hours after Thursday night’s presidential debate, where Biden — while up against former President Trump — at times tripped over his words and appeared to lose his train of thought.

The performance has fueled commentary among pundits and lawmakers that Biden — who is 81 — should step aside and let another Democrat assume the spot at the top of the presidential ticket.

Asked Friday if he thinks there’s a better Democrat to communicate the party’s platform, Clyburn, who served in House Democratic leadership for more than two decades before stepping down earlier this year, responded: “No.”

“There’s no better Democrat,” he added.

Clyburn’s message jives with that of other top Democrats, who backed up Biden following the debate.

Harris defends Biden debate performance in testy interview with Anderson Cooper

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters “no” when asked if Biden should step aside, though he later said “I’m gonna reserve comment about anything relative to where we are at this moment other than to say I stand behind the ticket” when asked if Biden is the most effective person to relay Democrats’ message.

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Biden “got off to a bad start; I thought he came through OK on the issues later,” adding “I think that on his worst night, his presentation of integrity was far better than the other guy’s dishonesty.”

Clyburn has been a close ally of Biden for years, especially during the 2020 presidential campaign, when he threw his support behind the then Democratic presidential candidate ahead of the South Carolina primary, turbocharging his struggling campaign. Biden’s victory in the Palmetto State’s primary served as a turning point for his campaign, putting him on the path to the Democratic nomination and, eventually, the White House.

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