Democratic governors seek meeting with White House after Biden’s poor debate performance

Some Democratic governors are seeking a meeting with the White House to discuss their concerns about President Joe Biden in the aftermath of his poor debate performance, multiple sources with knowledge of the discussions told CNN.

The concern from some of the nation’s Democratic governors were aired on a call Monday organized by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, one of the sources said. The call was attended by governors only.

On the call, some of the governors expressed surprise that they had not heard from Biden himself about his debate performance. There was a strong sentiment on the call that they needed to hear from Biden directly on the matter.

There was also some discussion of having Vice President Kamala Harris address them.

The governors, one of the sources said, were worried about going public with their concerns out of fear that it would lead to Biden digging in further. Plans for the meeting at the White House are underway but it has not been scheduled.

The White House is eyeing a meeting with Democratic governors on Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter says. The meeting at the White House would likely include a mix of in-person and virtual attendance, the source said.

Biden’s advisers are also discussing the possibility of having the president travel to Wisconsin on Friday and Pennsylvania on Sunday, the source said.

Biden’s shaky debate performance last Thursday roiled some of his largest donors and sent Democrats into a panic about the future of his campaign.

Biden has appeared in several public events since the debate, including a series of fundraisers, a post-debate rally in North Carolina on Friday and a brief speech on Monday evening about the Supreme Court’s immunity decision. During each of these events, he has appeared more energetic and clear-spoken than he was during the debate.

During his animated rally in North Carolina on Friday, Biden conceded he performed poorly during the debate.

“I know I’m not a young man,” he said. “I don’t walk as easily as I used to. I don’t talk as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong.”

But Biden’s recent appearances have all either been in front of a friendly crowd or featured the president reading from a teleprompter. He has ignored most reporters’ shouted questions since Thursday. And while Biden aides and top campaign advisers have raced to soothe anxieties about the president’s political future, lawmakers and other top Democrats clearly want to hear from the president himself.

Hoping to ease anxieties, Biden’s campaign chair on Monday told a group of donors that his team was “clear-eyed” about the realities of his debate showing. But participants in the Zoom call said Jen O’Malley Dillon batted away questions about Biden’s age and whether he could fulfill the duties of his of his office, and dismissed questions about whether he should be replaced on the ticket.

The campaign’s dismissiveness has caused some top Democrats to balk at the way post-debate messaging has been handled by Biden’s team.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to reflect that some of the governors on the call had not heard from the president directly about the debate.

CNN’s Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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