‘Uneasiness’ permeates White House as Biden enters critical week amid re-election doubts

There’s a general sense of “uneasiness” spreading through President Joe Biden’s White House as the future of his re-election campaign enters a critical week.

Biden’s terrible debate performance in Atlanta on June 27, when he appeared frail with a raspy voice and made several blunders as he lost his train of thought, has set off a crisis within the Democratic Party as senior elected officials call for the president to step aside.

Many in the White House are now in a somber mood and struggling with anxiety and unease regarding whether Biden, 81, will carry on with his campaign for another four year-term, according to CNN.

Staff members, including younger, more junior, employees as well as older, more experienced officials have had difficulty making sense of the president’s dismal showing at the debate.

TV screens in the White House set to cable news networks have made the headlines about the fallout of the debate hard to avoid for staffers.

Then on Sunday, several House Democrats said during a leadership call that Biden should step aside. Senior administration officials have since talked to their teams for emotional support and urged staffers to keep their heads down and continue the work, the network reported.

US President Joe Biden looks towards reporters as they shout questions as he walks towards the White House after landing on Marine One, in Washington, DC, 7 July 2024. There’s ‘unease’ in the White House regarding if he’ll continue his re-election campaign (EPA)
US President Joe Biden looks towards reporters as they shout questions as he walks towards the White House after landing on Marine One, in Washington, DC, 7 July 2024. There’s ‘unease’ in the White House regarding if he’ll continue his re-election campaign (EPA)

Administration officials have also shared the latest headlines and gossip in group chats, CNN noted.

A “senior White House official,” described as having worked with Biden during his time as president, vice president, and his 2020 campaign, told The New York Times over the weekend that they don’t think he should continue to run for re-election. The identity of the official has been a hot topic of conversation among staffers during the last few days.

“They shouldn’t be in the White House. Period,” one senior White House official told CNN, adding that they haven’t heard anyone say Biden should step aside.

Several people said the president retains support within the White House for his candidacy for the time being.

“They’re just kind of – ‘He’s in.’ They’re not veering off that, because once that cracks, that cracks hard,” a senior Democrat told CNN.

Biden said in a letter to Congressional Democrats on Monday that he’s “firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.”

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end,” he wrote.

“The voters – and the voters alone – decide the nominee of the Democratic Party,” he argued. “How can we stand for democracy in our nation if we ignore it in our own party? I cannot do that. I will not do that.”

During an all-staff call last week, Chief of Staff Jeff Zients told employees to ignore the pundits and the chatter regarding Biden’s campaign.

“Heads down, get things done, execution, execution, execution. Second, heads up – there’s so much to be proud of, and there’s so much more we will do together under this president’s leadership,” Zients said.

This is set to be a critical week for Biden as he hosts a NATO summit in Washington and is scheduled to hold a press conference on Thursday. Congress returns to town on Monday, and Democrats are sure to be asked about the president’s political future.