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Biden Pushes Back on Notion of Dropping Out: Election 2024 Live Updates

President Biden’s increasingly emphatic statements that he will not quit the presidential race send an unmistakable message to potentially recalcitrant Democrats: Any criticism in the future hurts the party’s chances against Donald J. Trump.

For days, Mr. Biden has been saying that he will remain his party’s nominee after his disappointing debate without the intervention of “the Lord Almighty.” On Monday, he put that claim into practice.

It started with an open letter to congressional Democrats, saying he would definitely run. It continued with a defiant call on one of his favorite news shows, denouncing the “elites” trying to oust him. It included a midday appearance on a private video call with some of his top campaign financiers, as well as a call for a virtual meeting Monday night with a bulwark of his past support: the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Mr. Biden told donors.

The gestures were a show of defiance that the Biden team hoped would earn him some deference as worried Democratic lawmakers returned to the Capitol after a holiday break. At the same time, the Biden team was trying to reframe the pressure campaign to remove him as an initiative of the party elite rather than a true reflection of rank-and-file voters’ fears about the age and acuity of the 81-year-old commander in chief.

“I love this combative Joe Biden,” said California Rep. Robert Garcia, a Democrat and a staunch Biden supporter. “When he takes a hit, he’s going to come back and hit harder.”

As lawmakers returned to Washington, Mr. Biden received some key words of support, including from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York (“He’s in this race; the case is closed”), but also some concern from influential lawmakers, including Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who is part of the Democratic leadership (“We need to see a much more forceful, energetic candidate”).

In his public and private statements Monday, Biden made clear that he holds all the cards to determine his political future. He won every Democratic primary state and 14 million votes, earning him virtually all the delegates heading to Chicago next month for the party convention.

“I’m more than just a presumptive nominee,” Biden told “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski in a phone interview on MSNBC. “I’m going to be the Democratic nominee.”

Mr Biden is trying to deflect attention away from Mr Trump, saying on the call with top campaign financiers: “We’re done talking about the debate. It’s time to put Trump in the bullseye.”

A Biden event Sunday in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden said his weekend campaign in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reaffirmed his belief that voters support him.Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

Some of the president’s allies, however, have questioned why this public relations campaign is taking place more than 10 days after the debate rather than right afterward. Mr. Biden waited eight days after the debate to give his first impromptu interview, with ABC News on Friday, and did not call congressional leaders until a few days after the debate.

David Doak, a longtime Democratic strategist, said the effort to impose party discipline was understandable to Mr. Biden, even if it risks “dividing the party at the worst possible time.” By insisting so clearly that he is not stepping down, Mr. Biden is making it harder for Democrats to call on him to do so for fear of weakening him for the fall.

“From a strategic perspective, that’s what I would advise him to do if he wanted to keep the nomination at all costs,” Doak said. “The ‘at all costs’ is the question.”

On MSNBC, Mr. Biden urged those who want another candidate to run against him. “Go ahead, announce your candidacy for president,” Mr. Biden told them. “Challenge me at the convention.”

In 2020, Biden said he wanted to serve as a “bridge” to the next generation of Democratic talent. Now, he sees himself as the party’s best chance to defeat Mr. Trump again, despite widespread concerns about his age.

“I would not run if I was not absolutely convinced that I was the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024,” Biden said.

Despite his status as party leader and the most powerful elected official in the country, Mr. Biden on Monday tried to play the role of an outsider pushing back against his own party’s establishment.

“I’m so frustrated with the elites,” Biden said on MSNBC’s show, long a favorite of the Democratic political establishment. “I’m not talking about you co-hosts of ‘Morning Joe,’ but about the elites in the party who know so much more.” He delivered those last words in a singsong tone of disdain.

He added that his weekend campaign in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reaffirmed his belief that voters supported him. “I don’t care what millionaires think,” Biden said.

Less than three hours later, Mr. Biden was on a Zoom call with members of his national finance committee — the major donors, millionaires and financiers who pool together the contributions of others — to thank them for their support.

Mr. Biden’s attempt to reframe the race as a battle against elites — echoing how Mr. Trump has often criticized the leadership of his own party — has not gone down well in some quarters of the party.

“This desire to divide the Democratic elite and ordinary people is wrong,” wrote Hilary Rosen, a veteran Democratic strategist, on X. “The elite is actually behind on concerns about Biden. A majority of voters have been concerned about him for two years.”

A poll conducted last week by The New York Times and Siena College showed that 74 percent of voters believed Mr. Biden was too old to be effective, including 59 percent of Democrats.

A day after some influential House Democrats met virtually on a private call and expressed concerns about their support for Mr. Biden, the president’s operation began to align and receive more statements of support, including from some key Black lawmakers.

“I stand 100 percent with the president,” Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told MSNBC. The current president, Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, also released a statement Monday endorsing Mr. Biden: “President Joe Biden is the nominee and was chosen by millions of voters across this country.”

Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York and a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, also issued a statement of support. Some of those who had criticized Biden privately have remained largely silent in public, including Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, who declined to answer questions about the president during an appearance in Manhattan.

Yet Mr. Biden continued to suffer fresh doubts from Democrats on Monday.

Senator Jon Tester of Montana said Mr Biden must prove to voters that he can last four more years.Credit…Kent Nishimura for The New York Times

Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who is seeking re-election this fall in a state that Mr. Trump is expected to win handily, said the president “has to prove to the American people — including me — that he is up to the job for another four years.”

Representative Greg Landsman of Ohio said “time is running out” for Mr. Biden, who he said must be able to make his case “over and over and over again.”

Mr. Biden’s next steps are expected to be the focus of discussions Tuesday when House Democrats are scheduled to hold a members-only briefing at party headquarters.

The main concern among many Biden allies is the president’s ability – or inability – to handle unscheduled appearances.

On Monday, White House spokesman John Kirby announced that the president would also participate in what he called a “big boy news conference” Thursday after a NATO summit.

But in a sign of the challenges facing the president, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre found herself brushing off questions about why a Parkinson’s disease expert had visited the White House eight times in eight months for the same briefing.

Ron Klain, Mr Biden’s former chief of staff who helped him prepare for the debate, wrote on X that “it takes the right candidate” to beat Mr Trump and that “pundits have consistently bet on verbally gifted opponents – Democrats and Republicans – who have lost”.

“Only one person beat him,” Mr. Klain added.

Patrick McGeehan And Nicolas Nehamas contribution to the report.

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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