Angry Biden has a Message: ‘Go ahead. Challenge me at the convention’

Angry Biden has a Message: ‘Go ahead. Challenge me at the convention’

As criticism from Democrats intensifies, Angry Biden has a message: He shares their frustration.

“I’m getting so frustrated by the elites … the elites in the party who — they know so much more,” Biden remarked sarcastically during a call to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” his preferred cable news show, on Monday. “Any of these guys don’t think I should, run against me: Go ahead. Challenge me at the convention.”

Since last month’s poor debate performance, pressure has been increasing on Biden to withdraw from the race. The televised call was part of a broader effort to resist internal pressure by energizing his party’s base and tapping into the widespread discontent with elites across both parties.

Angry Biden has a Message: 'Go ahead. Challenge me at the convention' 1

Just hours after Biden criticized the party’s insiders, he received significant support from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, who told reporters, “I’m for Joe” as he returned to the Capitol on Monday afternoon. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York also reaffirmed his support, telling a CNN reporter that his position remains unchanged.

Other Democratic lawmakers were more cautious, including Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who called for “conversations about the strongest path forward” and urged Biden “to more aggressively make his case to the American people.”

Biden’s tone during the brief call to “Morning Joe” was meant to demonstrate a fighting spirit and reassure Democrats who are concerned he may not be capable of taking on former President Trump.

It remains uncertain whether this approach will be effective as Biden faces one of the toughest political weeks of his presidency. With Congress returning, there is growing clamour within his party to replace him, as polls indicate he is falling further behind in the national vote and key swing states.

Biden is also hosting a meeting of international allies at a NATO summit in Washington, where he will be under pressure to perform for both a foreign audience concerned about the ongoing war in Ukraine and America’s stability, and a domestic audience eager to see if Biden, 81, shows signs of decline. Biden has scheduled a rare news conference for Thursday.

He has portrayed the movement to convince him to step aside as elitist and anti-democratic, despite 60% of voters in a New York Times poll indicating he should be replaced on the ballot, nearly double the number who believe he should remain the party’s nominee.

Biden faced little opposition in the Democratic primaries, meaning only he can decide whether to bow out.

“The voters of the Democratic Party have voted. They have chosen me to be the nominee of the party,” he wrote in a letter to congressional Democrats on Monday, making his case for staying in the race. “Do we now just say this process didn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say?”

Biden’s call to morning cable news to criticize his party’s establishment was reminiscent of Trump’s preferred method of communication. For years, even before running for election, Trump would call in to “Fox & Friends” to express his views to friendly hosts.

Early indications suggested that Biden was at least buying time to make his case to stay in the race, hoping that if he avoids missteps in the coming weeks, the focus on his frailty will diminish. However, it remains a risky bet for Democrats, given Trump’s polling lead and the likelihood that concerns about Biden’s age will not fade.

Trump has held only one public event in the 11 days since the debate, allowing Democrats to publicly discuss Biden’s future and keep the focus on Biden’s frailty, rather than Trump’s criminal convictions, policy proposals, or numerous lies told at the debate.

“It drives me nuts people are talking about this,” Biden said, adding, “Where the hell has Trump been?”

But he would not answer whether he has been tested for Parkinson’s or other age-related illnesses.

“I had a bad night,” he said with a purposeful chuckle. “That’s why I’ve been out. I’ve been testing myself.”

His press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, was equally evasive, refusing to answer why a Parkinson’s expert, Dr. Kevin Cannard, visited the White House multiple times, citing security and privacy reasons in a tense exchange with reporters.

She said Biden has seen a neurologist three times since becoming president during his physicals, but would not say whether it was Cannard or why he had visited at least eight times over the past year and whether those visits were related to Biden.

On Monday evening, the White House released a letter from Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, confirming that Cannard had been the neurologist who saw Biden during his annual physicals. O’Connor also stated that Cannard regularly visits the White House Medical Unit to work with military personnel and has done so for a dozen years.

Riverside Rep. Mark Takano was among four lawmakers on a conference call with leading House Democrats Sunday to call for a change at the top of the ticket, according to a Democratic aide privy to the conversation. Other Democrats on the call also expressed deep concern without explicitly calling for change.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, a Burbank Democrat and Senate candidate, voiced his concerns publicly.

“The performance on the debate stage, I think, rightfully raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigor to defeat Donald Trump. And this is an existential race,” Schiff said on “Meet the Press.” “It should not be even close. And there’s only one reason it is close, and that’s the president’s age.”

Some Democrats have said the matter is urgent, politically. But the party would have until at least the start of the Aug. 19 Democratic convention, and likely beyond that, to replace Biden, though the process would become increasingly complicated.

Ohio initially required candidates to be finalized by Aug. 7, prompting Democrats to plan on voting virtually before the deadline. But the Legislature passed a bill in late May, signed June 2, that moves the deadline to Sept. 1.

Even if Democrats keep their plan to nominate Biden before the convention through a virtual process, they can always change their minds later if he withdraws, said Elaine Kamarck, author of “Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates.”

“Too much is being made about that. Once the convention meets, it can do whatever it wants to do,” said Kamarck, who also serves as a delegate.

The party could set up a process for nominating a replacement and pass rules through a roll-call vote. If Biden withdrew after a convention vote, the party could still find a replacement through a party committee vote, Kamarck said. Voters are technically electing a set of electors, meaning the ballot would not need to change, she said. Republicans have signaled they would probably sue in that event.


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