Breaking: Biden Campaign in Damage-Control Mode on the Hill as Post-Debate Panic Deepens

The Biden campaign is in damage-control mode. The president's campaign team has been contacting Democratic lawmakers and their senior staff in an effort to shore up support for the president and reassure members that Biden is capable of staying on the ticket.

Those phone calls, text messages, and emails from the president's campaign team, relayed to National Review by multiple sources familiar with the conversations, reflects the sense of desperation setting in within Biden-world as the president's staff tries to assuage fears about the presumptive Democratic nominee's post-debate viability.

The calls and messages to Democratic lawmakers and their senior staff began in recent days and took on new urgency after Representative Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas) became the first elected Democrat to call on the president to leave the ticket. While Doggett is thus far the only lawmaker from Biden's party to publicly call for Biden to withdraw, several members have expressed a willingness to consider the possibility that Biden simply cannot recover from his disastrous Thursday night debate performance — and must therefore be replaced.

A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment.

In a Wednesday morning email reviewed by NR, House Members Director for the Biden campaign Hillary Beard shared internal polling data with "House friends," arguing that the race is still neck-and-neck. 

Beard — who copied former White House director of legislative affairs Louisa Terrell, Democratic National Committee deputy communications director Brooke Goren, and the Biden campaign's surrogates communications director Julia Hamelberg on the email — said that any changes in polling represent "a moment in time and not a reshaping of the race."

"Maybe folks don't want to hear, but we have timing that is running out," Representative Summer Lee (D., Pa.) said during a Wednesday radio interview. "Time is not on our side. We have a few months to do a monumental task. It's not cheap and it's not easy. If our president decides this is not a pathway forward for him, we have to move very quickly."

Representative Jared Golden (D., Maine) published an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday in which he asserted his belief that Trump will defeat Biden in the November election and that he is "OK with that."

"Biden's poor performance in the debate was not a surprise," Golden wrote. "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."

Representative Mary Gluesenkamp Perez (D., Wash.) made a similar point in an interview with a local news outlet, saying that after watching the debate "for about five very painful minutes" she believes Trump will retake the White House. 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on MSNBC Tuesday that Biden's debate performance poses "a legitimate question," adding that the public should know whether the president's state on Thursday night was "an episode" or "a condition."

For some senior Democrats, the Biden team's charm offensive may be too little, too late.

It took until Tuesday for Biden to speak personally with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.) and he waited until Wednesday morning to talk with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). Despite the Biden campaign's efforts, Jeffries has reportedly declined to prevent party members from criticizing the president in public.

Biden and Representative Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.) — the man who more or less put the president over the top in the 2020 Democratic primary race — reportedly spoke Wednesday, but a Clyburn spokesperson said the contents of the conversation will not be made public.  

During a Tuesday afternoon meeting held by the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), lawmakers voiced their irritation with Biden and his staff, referring to the president as the "donkey in the room," Axios reported. House members in the party said Doggett's statement urging the president to leave the ticket will not be the only one if the White House does not "start to show that they get it."

It is the same aggravation that led to the planning of a meeting between Biden and Democratic governors for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

An individual familiar with the scheduled call said Democratic governors "sound like any other group of elected Democratic officials right now — utter frustration and nobody thinks the campaign is handling it the right way," Politico's Elena Schneider reported Tuesday.

Much likely depends on how Biden performs in a Friday interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos and during campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over the weekend. 

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Biden Campaign in Damage-Control Mode on the Hill as Post-Debate Panic Deepens

Campaign staffers are calling and messaging lawmakers and senior staff insisting that Biden is capable of ... READ MORE


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