Biden Toughs It Out

[ Posted Tuesday, July 9th, 2024 – 16:21 UTC ]

President Joe Biden isn't going anywhere, he insists. He remains committed to his candidacy and is confident that he will indeed beat Donald Trump in November. And his strategy of toughing it out against all the critics calling for him to step away from the race appears to be paying off -- at least so far.

This morning, House Democrats held a party caucus meeting, but afterwards not a whole lot changed. The number of House Democrats who have publicly called for Biden to get out of the race increased by two -- to seven -- with an additional three who called for the same thing in a private call with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Sunday. This adds up to 10 Democrats, out of a total of over 210 in the House. That is less than five percent.

Senate Democrats met later in the day and also did not emerge from their meeting with any sort of cohesive stance. To date, there have been zero Democratic senators publicly calling for Biden to end his campaign (although a number have expressed their reservations about Biden staying, without explicitly calling him to get out). In other words, the situation hasn't changed appreciably even after both caucuses met. Having Biden remain as the party's nominee is either gaining traction in the rank-and-file, or perhaps people are taking a "wait and see" approach, at least for now.

There have been no more media reports (in the past couple of days, at least) of letters circulating among Democratic members of Congress, calling on the president to step aside. Perhaps they exist, perhaps they are circulating and gaining signatures, but if that is true the effort is being kept under wraps (which would be very hard to accomplish, considering the mainstream media's efforts to find out what is going on). Such letters may appear later, but right now it is looking like they won't, at least if the situation does not change appreciably in the meantime.

There have been more members willing to publicly support Biden, with increasing vigor, then there have been members turning against him. Which is why I say Biden's "tough it out" strategy seems to be bearing fruit. Biden is working hard behind the scenes to shore up his support among certain Democratic factions (an effort that many say should have happened a week ago, but better late than never). Biden has been making public appearances, and hasn't had any big stumbles along the way, which definitely improves his standing. Polling hasn't so far shown a huge dropoff in support for Biden -- but he's still losing to Trump where it counts. We're starting to see polls which are measuring the public's opinions on possible replacements for Biden, and in one today Vice President Kamala Harris once again does better than Biden by a few points -- but those few points are enough to put her ahead of Trump while Biden is a point behind him. But "a few points" is not a dramatic enough difference to make the case that she'd have a much easier time beating Trump than Biden -- again, at least so far.

The surprising thing about the polls is which Democrats do fare a lot better against Trump. Some of the names bandied about by the national press don't do as well as Biden -- perhaps because they aren't as well-known at the national level. Neither Gavin Newsom nor Gretchen Whitmer (to name just two) are even close to Trump, at the moment. But there were two names which were a surprise -- neither of which is likely to be an actual candidate, even if Biden does step down. You know who beats Trump like a drum? Michelle Obama. She would trounce Trump, according to the poll. And although it wasn't anywhere near as dramatic, Hillary Clinton was better (by one point) than even Harris against Trump. But neither one has shown the slightest interest in running, and Obama in particular would likely flat-out refuse to do so (no matter what the polls said).

This entire campaign -- this entire political landscape -- is incredibly locked in, and has been all along. On the Republican side, not even 34 felony convictions changed Trump's polling much (if at all). That's a rather astounding thing, since it defies all past political logic. On the Democratic side, not even Biden's disastrous debate performance has caused his numbers to crater either. The voters know which team they're supporting, and it seems nothing much is going to sway them from their decision. On both sides, this shows a remarkable amount of acceptance of the two candidates' weaknesses.

So perhaps Joe Biden is right to tough it out. Democrats right now are divided into those who want Joe to continue and those who want him to step aside. The lines of this division haven't been clearly drawn quite yet, but as things stand the number who are publicly calling for Biden to step aside is very small indeed. And if they can't even say so publicly, it is highly doubtful whether many of them are willing to tell Biden right to his face that he has lost their support. From all indications, that would be what it would take -- a direct appeal, by enough of the party to convince him.

Of course, Biden's campaign is now in -- and will likely remain in -- a sort of "waiting for the other shoe to drop" mode. Everything he does -- every appearance he makes -- is going to be minutely scrutinized by the political chattering class. He gave a speech for the 75th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization today, and from all accounts he gave a really good speech. But the next real test is going to come Thursday.

In two days, Biden will hold a solo press conference, ostensibly to talk about the NATO meetings he hosted. But I expect very few questions about foreign policy to be asked, since this is a rare opportunity for the media to grill Biden on any subject under the sun. The last solo press conference Biden gave was way back in 2022, in fact. His team has kept Biden under wraps to an amazing degree -- he has given fewer press conferences and interviews than either Barack Obama or Donald Trump at this point in their terms, by far. This was always seen as his team protecting him from his inevitable gaffes, but now it has taken on a deeper meaning. Were they just trying to conceal Biden's mental state? These questions are now being asked.

Biden does get rather testy when challenged directly by the press on subjects he would much rather not talk about. And this week's presser is going to be chock full of that sort of thing, so the possibility of Biden getting visibly annoyed (or even angry) has got to be seen as rather high. He will get a slew of questions about his age and mental capacity, which is an insulting topic for anyone to face. He will be asked about his medical record and whether he is willing to take a cognitive test. He will probably face a few questions about his son Hunter's felony convictions. He will be asked about the polls showing him behind Trump in most of the battleground states. He will be asked about his slipping support from Blacks, Latinos, and youthful voters. He will likely be asked whether he would support his vice president taking over his campaign, should he step aside. None of these questions is going to be to Biden's liking, obviously. And him stating "we're done with that subject" just isn't going to work, most likely. So the reporters badgering him may indeed get under his skin.

Even if Biden keeps his cool, his every answer will be scrutinized minutely for accuracy and coherence. If he drifts off into irrelevancies (the way he did during the debate), reporters are going to pounce, most likely. They'll probably point out his inconsistencies in real time, forcing Biden to defend his gaffes. This could lead to disaster. And if Biden does fall apart during his press conference, that might be the straw that breaks the Democratic camel's back. A lot more members of Congress might be willing to go public with their calls for Biden to step aside if he has a spectacular meltdown live on camera.

For the sake of argument though, let's say Biden does really well during his presser. Let's say he knocks it out of the park, and by doing so builds confidence among his own party's rank-and-file. Even then, every single appearance he makes going forward is going to engender the same sort of breathless "make or break" reporting from the press. They're going to be circling like sharks, just waiting for Biden to have a major screwup.

That, obviously, is going to be risky. But it could be survivable, in the end. So far Biden's efforts to tough things out and reprise his whole "Comeback Kid" persona seems to be paying off for him. That may work. But the flip side to that coin could wind up being: "...right up until it doesn't."

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


17 Comments on “Biden Toughs It Out”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Oh, please! If there is a God in heaven, please don't put ideas in Hillary's head about running again.

    You know this nonsense about replacing Biden has run its course when Hillary gets anywhere near a mention in that regard!

    I hope this page isn't waiting for Labour Day to get serious about this presidential race!

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And if they can't even say so publicly, it is highly doubtful whether many of them are willing to tell Biden right to his face that he has lost their support. From all indications, that would be what it would take -- a direct appeal, by enough of the party to convince him.

    Ha! It would be great fun watching them try to tell Biden to his face that he should step aside. That would be a real hoot! It'll take more than that, in other words. Ahem.

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    When will you stop testing Biden and looking for weaknesses and get back to telling Democrats how to fight back!?

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... against Trump, that is.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    They're going to be circling like sharks, just waiting for Biden to have a major screwup

    They're? You meant to write that WE'RE going to be circling like sharks ... right?

    Better to own what you have already said and count yourself amongst the sharks.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So far Biden's efforts to tough things out and reprise his whole "Comeback Kid" persona seems to be paying off for him.

    By the way, the appropriate phrase here is the Rebound Kid!

    But, you get some marks for just tapping out 'kid'. :-)

    Why am I getting a sense of deja vu? It's beginning to feel like Iowa, circa 2007/08 around here. Heh.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are we planning to keep this up right on through the Democratic convention?

  8. [8] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Keep what up?

  9. [9] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What Chris has been doing for the last many days now and will, apparently, keep doing from now on ... trying hard to get Trump re-elected. And, that ain't no typo!

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Yer damn right, Elizabeth! I am so sick of all the fucking Diaper Democrats trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


    Chris, get a grip — you’re going to look back on this post election and be embarrassed! Grow a pair and let’s get back to work.*smh*

  11. [11] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Cenk Uygur (who I’ve long respected) is among these Diaper Democrats. He is sure Biden will now lose because of the debate and has called out our buddy Allan Lichtman, who addresses Cenk’s complaints directly. (14:48)

  12. [12] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    (Diaper) Democrats In Disarray

  13. [13] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Folks, polling is a snapshot in time!

    Here’s 538 to put polling four months out from the election into perspective.

    The reason, in other words, that our forecast hasn't moved much since the debate is that a 2-point swing in the race now does not necessarily translate to a 2-point swing on Election Day. The only way to take the polls more seriously is simply to wait.

  14. [14] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Trump at his first post-debate rally said,

    ”Our victory was so absolute that Joe’s own party now wants him to throw in the towel and surrender the presidency after a single ninety-minute performance,” Trump said.

    The Bedwetters trying to force out Joe should realize that’s exactly what will happen if they’re successful. “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.” Joe effed up his debate prep, yes, but it’s ONE 90 minute…four months out!

  15. [15] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    So, Joe had yet another (consecutive since hours after the debate) successful presser/public speaking appearance.

    Chris, what will it take to convince you that this one time lousy debate performance is an aberration and that Biden (and HIS track record) still blows away Trump (and HIS track record) and that’s not mentioning Dobbs and Snyder (which legalized bribery of elected officials so long as its after the fact, and most recently Trump which says that the President is above the law.

    Oh, yeah there was an extra estimated 400,000 extra dead Americans from COVID because Trump was more interested in the stock market closing average in February 2020 that he was about protecting America. Trump lost 3m jobs (the first President since Republican Herbert Hover) due to that mismanagement of COVID — do you recall that the US was already going into recession in November 2019 due to Trump’s economic policies? And, of course there was January 6th and two impeachments. And subsequent 34 felony convictions for election fraud) and E. Jean Carroll (way to sweep up those suburban female voter, Donny!) and NY state half a lbillion penalty for business fraud.

    I swear, the Democratic donor class are the only ones calling for Joe to drop out. This feeds into my suspicion that Democrat’s failure from day one 1984 to make the obvious case against Reaganomic tax cuts for the only Americans that don’t need a tax cut to to get by.

  16. [16] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Don’t block me, Chris. But you have joining the chorus of bedwetters that (quite understandably) the Conservatives are mocking as complete McCarthys (aka pussies).

    Who can blame them?

    Will you continue to be part of the problem or rather part of the solution?

  17. [17] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    Voters have voted for Joe to be our nominee. You wanna tell them to go pound sand because the Democratic donor class likes the prospect of another #NoMillionaireLeftBehind tax cut more than they love America?

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