‘I’m staying in the race’: Biden defiant on key campaign day as pressure to withdraw keeps building

Biden says he still thinks he can beat Donald Trump in November

Andrew Feinberg
Friday 05 July 2024 22:38
Biden vows to stay in the race against Trump as he fights for political future

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


A defiant President Joe Biden told voters he isn’t going anywhere and pledged to deny Donald Trump a second White House term, even as he continues to face more calls to stand down from the 2024 presidential race amid questions over his fitness to compete for and serve out a second four-year term.

Biden, who spoke to a raucous crowd of supporters in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, said he is his party’s nominee in this year’s presidential election because of “millions of Democrats like you” who voted for him “in primaries all across America.”

“The voters did that, and despite that, some folks don’t seem to care who you voted for ... they’re trying to push me out of the race,” he said, referring to the growing chorus of Democrats who want him to exit the race on account of his rambling, meandering and disturbing performance against Trump just over a week ago.

As the crowd of supporters chanted “let’s go Joe” and “four more years,” Biden declared that he is not going to bow to that pressure.

“Let me say as clearly as I can: I’m staying in the race. I’ll beat Donald Trump,” he said. “I beat him in 2020 ... and by the way, we’re going to do it again in 2024!”

Continuing, Biden said he would not permit “one 90-minute debate” to “wipe out three and a half years of work,” and touted his accomplishments as president, including creating “15 million new jobs” and reducing student debt for “nearly five million Americans” while putting the first Black woman on the US Supreme Court.

Joe Biden attends a campaign rally in Wisconsin on July 5.
Joe Biden attends a campaign rally in Wisconsin on July 5. (AP)

Earlier in the day as he departed Washington for the campaign stop, the 81-year-old chief executive was asked whether he still believes he can defeat his likely opponent, former president Donald Trump, in November’s general election.

“Yes,” Biden said, taking a pausing before he ascended a set of air-stairs to board Air Force One.

The president’s hastily-arranged travel to the Badger State capital comes on the same day he is set to participate in a make-or-break television interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous in a desperate effort to turn around flagging support for his candidacy among prominent Democratic donors and some officeholders.

In the days since his shambolic performance against Trump in the first debate between the two men since they last faced off during the 2020 election, a small but growing chorus of elected officials has said Biden’s best course of action to head off a defeat at Trump’s hands is to stand aside in favor of another candidate, most likely Vice President Kamala Harris.

President Joe Biden expressed confidence as he traveled to Wisconsin ahead of a rally and ABC News interview
President Joe Biden expressed confidence as he traveled to Wisconsin ahead of a rally and ABC News interview (AP)

Among those former surrogates and supporters who are now calling for Biden to step back is Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, who said in a statement on Friday the president “saved our democracy in 2020 and has done an outstanding job over the last four years.”

“The best way forward right now is a decision for the President to make. Over the coming days, l urge him to listen to the American people and carefully evaluate whether he remains our best hope to defeat Donald Trump,” she added.

Several members of Congress have also called for Biden to consider withdrawing his candidacy, and a growing number of top Democratic donors — including Disney heiress Abigail Disney and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman — have said the 46th president should take his name out of consideration as his party’s nominee, while threatening to withhold donations to Democratic candidates until he does.

To date, Biden has refused to even consider standing aside, and in a succession of public statements since the disastrous debate has said he is staying in the race.

But privately, he has told confidantes that he may yet have to bow to the pressure to pull out, though he still believes he can convince doubters with strong performances in his Friday television interview, at the NATO summit he is hosting next week in Washington and in a press conference he has scheduled during the summit.

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