White House’s Day from Hell as Dems Open Fire on Biden

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters/Public Domain
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters/Public Domain

Joe Biden’s presidency went from teetering on the brink to being in full freefall on Tuesday.

The day started with former congressman and Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan calling on Biden to step aside and for Vice President Kamala Harris to take the reins as the party’s nominee.

The floodgates then began to break open following the noon release of a punishing CNN poll which showed Biden had fallen six points behind Trump. Within minutes of the poll dropping, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used the word “condition” as a potential explanation for Biden’s debate performance.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition? When people ask that question, it’s completely legitimate—of both candidates,” Pelosi said on MSNBC. Even though Pelosi said she personally supports Biden remaining as the Democratic nominee, her choice of words provided plenty of cover for other Democrats.

Dem Dam Breaks on Biden: Pelosi Says Fitness is ‘Legitimate’ Question

At that point, an even greater degree of panic began to permeate through Democratic circles.

“There comes a time in a re-election campaign where you have to stop governing, and he should be doing events every single day,” a senior Democratic strategist told The Daily Beast. “If you want the clips to stop flying around, you need to give the media new content. Small pressers are not enough. He needs to be out and be angry. It shouldn’t be that hard—or maybe it is, and that’s the problem.”

Trumpworld, meanwhile, was thrilled.

Following Pelosi’s remarks, one of Donald Trump’s top advisers simply made repeated use of the exclamation point reaction feature when texting with The Daily Beast about the former speaker.

Things then went from bad to worse when the first sitting Democratic House member called on Biden to fall on his sword.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)—who noted the irony of being from former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s district in his statement—was shortly followed by Adam Frisch, a Democratic congressional candidate who would have been poised for a rematch with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) before she switched districts.

Then Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) published an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News predicting a Trump victory in November.

“After the first presidential debate, lots of Democrats are panicking about whether President Joe Biden should step down as the party’s nominee,” Golden writes. “Biden’s poor performance in the debate was not a surprise. It also didn’t rattle me as it has others, because the outcome of this election has been clear to me for months: While I don’t plan to vote for him, Donald Trump is going to win. And I’m OK with that.”

Plugged-in Democrats who spoke with The Daily Beast said they thought the floodgates wouldn’t break until well after the Fourth of July holiday weekend, leading some candidates to huddle for contingency plans.

Well before Biden’s debate debacle, The Daily Beast learned of multiple potential 2028 contenders who had conducted their own version of a war games exercise to work out what would happen if Biden announced he would not seek re-election in 2024, according to three sources familiar with the discussions. These private conversations were before the 2022 midterms, where a strong performance from the party quelled such chatter.

For one of the camps who conducted the thought experiment, they determined that if Biden announced his intention not to seek re-election, he would likely have to resign shortly afterward because of outside pressure around whether he could still do the job—not just campaign for it—according to one of the sources involved, who requested anonymity for the would-be candidate.

The Biden campaign did not return a request for comment, and would not go on the record Monday when asked whether the president would do a live town hall-style event to assuage the public over concerns around his cognitive fitness.

Although Biden could have addressed the swelling anxiety around his party at the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre instead delivered an entirely lackluster briefing where she repeatedly delegated to the campaign and would not make any firm commitments around Biden’s availability beyond a NATO address in Europe next week.

Jean-Pierre also claimed Biden is still suffering from a cold.

Most likely, the first time the public will hear from Biden in an unscripted setting will be on Friday, July 5, when the president sits down with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. Portions of the interview will air that night, with the rest airing on This Week With George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.

Biden Grants First Post-Debate Interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos

On Wednesday, Biden’s White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients will hold an all-staff call at 12:30, where the president’s fate could become more clear.

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), an elder statesman of the party, told The Daily Beast the situation around Biden does not “have a lot of precedent.”

Frank emphasized the party needs to figure out what to do about their nominee internally, not in public.

“But I’ll tell ya… my practice is, if I’m giving advice to someone on a difficult subject, to give it to that person only,” Frank said, skirting around whether it’s time for Biden to step aside.

When asked if he had tried to reach Biden directly, Frank said he had not, and that the president has advisers who can relay that sort of a message.

Yet when asked if he thought it’s time for the party to embrace Harris as a new nominee, Frank was less diplomatic in his response.

“You think I forgot what I told you ten seconds ago?”

Meanwhile, The New York Times has a fresh poll which could come as early as Wednesday. If it is as dire as the CNN poll, or even worse, it could be another nail in Joe Biden’s presidency.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the congressional district Adam Frisch is running to represent.

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