Joe Biden vows to fight on as US political world unravels: 'Unprecedented times'

Betting markets are swinging wildly as questions swirl around whether Joe Biden could realistically be replaced in the US presidential race.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.
US president Joe Biden says he will not back down as friends and colleagues call for him to step aside. Source: Reuters

It's not often you expect a candid and forthright response from a politician, especially when it's dealing with something as ugly as this.

US president Joe Biden has vowed to "get back up" and continue to contest the upcoming election despite his disastrous performance in Friday's debate with Donald Trump. But in the hours following the televised event, pundits, allies and Democratic insiders were lining up to call for him to step aside and to float the idea of a replacement candidate.

One of those who acknowledged the uncomfortable reality was former Democratic senator, and close friend of Joe Biden, Heidi Heitkamp. So much so, that her assessment of the train-wreck debate left the hosts of ABC's Planet America a little taken aback on Friday night.

"Wow..." host Chas Licciardello laughed at the close of the interview.

"That was candid."

"That was a lot more forthcoming than I expected," co-host John Barron agreed. "And bear in mind Heidi Heitkamp is a personal friend of Joe Biden's ... She would not be saying openly to us, or anybody, that the party will be looking for an alternative if she did not seriously believe that."

The Planet America hosts during their show talking about US presidential debate.
The Planet America hosts couldn't quite believe the state of things. Source: ABC

Speaking to the ABC program, the former North Dakota senator, made the point that Biden's feeble performance allowed Trump to appear in control and presidential – quite different from his aggressive and erratic performances in previous debates.

"I honestly think the debate performance was that bad that people are really, seriously considering replacing him on the ticket at the convention. Which I honestly think will lead to a lot of enthusiasm.

"In some ways we are in unprecedented times," she said.

Barron likened the predicament of the Democratic party to trying to get an aging grandparent to finally give up the keys to the car – a reality Heitkamp said the whole "Democratic apparatus" was now grappling with.

Democrat presidential candidate U.S. President Joe Biden listens as Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during their debate in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., June 27, 2024. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Questions have swirled about if Biden should push ahead. Source: AP

"Hopefully, the president, who I love dearly ... will actually have that same moment of clarity, like, 'Am I up to this task?'

"And the stakes are just so high, not just for the United states of America but they're high for you guys [Australia], they're high for Europe," she said.

While the political logistics and practicalities may be insurmountable, if Biden was to step aside it would give the party time to pick another nominee at its convention, which starts on August 19. That would mean a potentially messy process that could pit Vice President Kamala Harris against governors and other office-holders whose names have been floated as possible replacements.

One of those is Californian Governor Gavin Newsom who surged on some betting and odds platforms in the US to nearly the same odds as Biden to take the nomination. On Australian betting site Sportsbet he was paying $7 to be the next US president to Joe Biden's $4.50 – a rather remarkable situation for someone who is not running. Donald Trump, meanwhile, was at short odds of $1.57.

Californian Governor Gavin Newsom deflected questions about whether he would make a play for the nomination. Source: AP
Californian Governor Gavin Newsom deflected questions about whether he would make a play for the nomination. Source: SportsBet/AP

Three columnists from the New York Times' progressive-leaning opinion section called on Biden to drop out of the race. While one Biden donor, speaking to Reuters under the condition of anonymity, called his performance "disqualifying" and predicted that some Democrats would revisit calls for him to step aside.

However the president's campaign co-chair Mitch Landrieu said on CNN "it's not likely to happen".

The 81-year-old was looking to bounce back today as he attended a rally in North Carolina.

"I don't walk as easy as I used to, I don't speak as smoothly as I used to, I don't debate as well as I used to," Biden told the cheering crowd. "I would not be running again if I didn't believe with all my heart and soul that I could do this job. The stakes are too high."

In a move that would not have come without serious deliberations inside the party, former US president Barack Obama this morning acknowledged Biden had a "bad" debate performance but maintained his support for him as a candidate.

"Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know," Obama said on X. "But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself. Last night didn't change that."

The next Biden-Trump debate is scheduled to take place on September 10. There are no conversations about Biden stepping aside from his re-election bid and he plans to participate in the September debate, his campaign said this morning.

with Reuters

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