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Biden’s position deteriorates as crucial press conference looms

The past 24 hours, which have shaken the political base of Joe Biden’s re-election bid, leave him facing the highest pressure at a presidential press conference in modern history on Thursday (11).

The importance of Biden’s solo appearance at the end of the NATO summit grew by the hour as his political standing crumbled at an alarming rate. Supporters from Congress to Hollywood warned that he needed to step down for the good of the party and the country, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a clear signal that a recalcitrant president should rethink his options.

The rebellion, led by a small minority of congressional Democrats but appearing to run deeper, reflects the fear now emerging on Capitol Hill that former President Donald Trump could spark a Republican wave that would give conservatives a monopoly on power in Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court.

Some Democrats worry that the 81-year-old Biden’s determination to run again, despite the diminished skills exposed by the debate, could endanger the very democracy he claims to be trying to save.

The president — who was already in a bad political situation even before the disastrous debate — is determined not to pass the torch to a younger Democrat. But three factors could make his position untenable: a fracture in support within his party; drying up campaign funding; and unfavorable polling data.

As Biden greeted world leaders at the NATO summit on Wednesday (10) and led discussions on how to save Ukraine, pieces were falling into place to make that fatal triad a reality.

Nothing less than Biden’s hopes of a second term will be at stake at the press conference exactly two weeks after his rambling, stunned debate performance sent his campaign into freefall.

It is the latest in a series of public events that have turned into excruciating examinations of Biden’s health and cognitive abilities, during which any slip-up or blunder could trigger a political disaster.

Any sign that his reasoning or performance is impaired by age would reinforce an impression of presidential weakness etched into the national consciousness in the debate. CNN and could ignite a surprising Democratic revolt.

Changing terrain under the president

The day began with Pelosi, still a key party power broker, contradicting Biden’s insistence that questions about his debate performance and his nomination were over.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” she said it was up to Biden “to decide whether he’s going to run” — comments that everyone in Washington interpreted as a plea for Biden to change his mind. The California Democrat appeared to be offering the president another chance to gracefully change his mind after he warned earlier in the week, “I’m not going anywhere.”

Lawmakers throughout the day sent similar signals. Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres — a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which supports Biden — told CNN : “If we are on a political suicide mission, then we should at least be honest about it.”

His New York counterpart, moderate Rep. Pat Ryan, urged Biden to make good on his promise to be a bridge to a new generation of leaders. “Trump is an existential threat to American democracy; it is our duty to field the strongest candidate against him. Joe Biden is a patriot, but he is no longer the best candidate to defeat Trump.”

And on Wednesday night, Vermont Sen. Peter Welch became the first Democratic senator to publicly call for Biden to step down. “He saved us from Donald Trump once, and he wants to do it again. But he needs to reevaluate whether he’s the best candidate for it. In my view, he’s not,” Welch wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Top Biden campaign officials are set to meet with Democratic senators on Thursday to make the president’s case, but a briefing by aides will fall well short of the steps members are demanding to show Biden has the strength to beat Trump.

Until Tuesday night (9), it appeared that Biden had managed to stem the tide against him. But within 24 hours, he was rapidly losing ground, and it is becoming difficult to imagine how the party can rally around him at the Democratic National Convention in August if many lawmakers leave Chicago and head into an election in which they believe their presidential candidate will seal their defeat.

Lawmakers’ concerns are so significant because they are listening to voters, reading polling data in their states, and concluding that Biden not only cannot win, but — as Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet told CNN on Tuesday — could hand Trump a landslide victory that he could use to implement his authoritarian agenda.

Top Democratic leaders in Congress have yet to say Biden should step down. And the president still has his defenders.

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Biden ally and campaign co-chair, told CNN on Wednesday: “He will be our candidate at the convention. He will be our candidate in the fall. He will be the next president of the United States.”

Senator John Fetterman, who represents the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, told CNN that it would be a “disgrace to discard and expel an incredible president” and that he would appear at the meeting of Democratic senators on Thursday armed with brass knuckles to defend Biden.

But the growing frustration and indications that the president’s waning support could doom the party’s November hopes help explain why House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told members he would pass on their concerns to Biden.

Biden is no longer the “big deal” he was in 2010

Biden’s most personally painful defection came from actor and Democratic mega-donor George Clooney, who appeared at a fundraiser with the president last month. The director and star of “Good Night, and Good Luck” said he loved Biden, and believed in his morals, character and presidency.

But he wrote in an op-ed in the New York Times: “The Joe Biden I met with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was no longer the ‘big deal’ Joe Biden of 2010.” Clooney continued: “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate. We are not going to win in November with this president.”

Clooney’s article underscored how the Biden situation is not just a simmering political controversy but has become a wrenching human ordeal for the president, who is beloved by many Democrats but whose diminished health and capabilities are now becoming fodder for a humiliating debate in the most public way possible.

Clooney maintains deep connections with Democratic officeholders and donors, so his opinions carry more weight than those of any celebrity. And he’s not the only disgruntled donor.

In another sign of danger for Biden’s candidacy, a Democratic strategist told CNN : “Everything is frozen because nobody knows what’s going to happen. Everybody’s on hold,” adding that the money was on hold and awaiting the outcome of Biden’s Thursday press conference and interviews.

The president will sit down with NBC “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt for an interview that will be recorded and aired next Monday (15), the network announced.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 5.

There has been a drop in public polling for Biden since the debate. And Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who is in a tight Senate race in Michigan, told donors in a video call Tuesday that Biden was trailing Trump in private polls in her state, the New York Times reported.

If the president cannot win Michigan, as he did in 2020, his path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House becomes meaningless.

The deepening crisis gripping the Democratic Party is not only hurting Biden’s chances of retaining the nomination. It is also providing Trump and Republicans with an endless supply of attack ads against Biden if he is confirmed as the nominee.

Individual candidates can also expect to be criticized for supporting a party figure who many Democrats have declared is unfit to serve a second term that would end when he is 86.

And two weeks of agonizing over Biden’s age and mental faculties, combined with a clumsy mitigation effort by the White House and the campaign, have taken the focus off Trump and deprived Democrats of the comparison with the former president’s lawlessness and volatility that many originally believed would help Biden hold on to the White House.

Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, warned that Democrats needed to end their bickering and support the president before it was too late. She told CNN that it was “astonishing” that his party was on a “suicide mission” so close to the election.

But as Biden’s political standing continues to deteriorate rapidly, the question is becoming how much longer he can insist he is the only Democrat who can beat Trump.

Source: CNN Brasil

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