Biden ‘seriously considering’ leaving election race

Joe Biden has for the first time said that he is considering ending his presidential campaign, according to reports.

After days of criticism over his disastrous performance in last week’s debate against Donald Trump, the US president told allies he “knows if he has two more events like that” then he is in a “different place”, according to a report in The New York Times.

In his latest fundraising appeal email to supporters, however, Mr Biden repeated: “I’m running”.

“Folks, I know the past few days have been tough,” read the email, quoted by CNN on Wednesday evening.

“I’m sure you’re getting a lot of questions. I’m sure many of you have questions as well. So, let me say this as clearly and simply as I can: I’m running,” the email says.

The Democratic governors of New York, Minnesota and Maryland, who were among the state leaders who met with Mr Biden on Wednesday, expressed confidence in him and said they had an honest discussion after his debate performance.

“We were honest about the feedback that we were getting,” Maryland Governor Wes Moore told reporters after the meeting at the White House.

“We said that we would stand with him.” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said he believed Mr Biden was “fit for office”.

Earlier, Mr Biden had reportedly told campaign staff he would not be running again if he “didn’t believe with all my heart and soul” that he could perform the job of President.

Mr Biden’s White House team is hoping that he can recover his campaign with an energetic appearance at two rallies and in a television interview this weekend. He is also expected to host a July 4 holiday barbecue at the White House on Thursday.

It came as a new poll by Siena College found Mr Biden has dropped three points in a head-to-head race with Trump since before last Thursday’s event, and is now six points behind.

Aides say that the 81-year-old leader is “well aware of the political challenge he faces”, but a spokesman described the claim he was considering giving up the Democratic nomination as “absolutely false”.

Another source told CNN the US President would consider dropping out if “the polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly”.

Democrats have been clamouring for Mr Biden to give up his campaign and speculation is mounting that he could be replaced by Kamala Harris, the vice-president.

The Republican Party has begun putting out attack adverts about Ms Harris, suggesting that she is an “enabler in chief” responsible for a White House cover-up of the poor state of her running mate’s health.

The pair met for lunch at the White House on Wednesday before appearing on an all-staff call with their team.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden shown on screen during the CNN election debateDonald Trump and Joe Biden shown on screen during the CNN election debate

Mr Biden stuttered, forgot his lines and, at one point, froze entirely during the CNN debate – EPN/Avalon

Mr Biden said on the call: “I am running. I am the leader of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out.”

The leaked suggestions that Mr Biden is actively considering ending his campaign prompted speculation by some analysts that the White House is using the next few days as a test of Mr Biden’s viability as the Democrat nominee.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden on stage during the CNN election debateDonald Trump and Joe Biden on stage during the CNN election debate

Mr Biden has since blamed his poor debate performance on his busy schedule in the lead-up to the event – Brian Snyder/REUTERS

The campaign rallies in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, two key swing states, will be followed by an interview broadcast on ABC News on Sunday.

Aides reportedly hope that they will help Democrats to set aside concerns about his age and mental agility.

However, the calls for Mr Biden to reconsider his campaign continued yesterday, amid reports that some House Democrats are organising a letter calling for him to stand down.

Reed Hastings, a major Democratic Party donor and a co-founder of the streaming platform Netflix, on Wednesday joined those calling on Mr Biden to stand down.

“Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” he was quoted as saying in an email to The New York Times.

Two Democrat congressmen, Lloyd Doggett and Raul Grijalva, have called on Mr Biden to make the decision to withdraw, while two other sitting Democrats have said they think he will lose the election to Trump.

“If [Mr Biden] is the candidate, I’m going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere,” said Mr Grijalva, a Democrat representative from Arizona.

“What he needs to do is shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat — and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, Mr Biden’s spokesman, said he was “absolutely not” going to leave the race, describing last week’s debate as a “bad night”.

Mr Biden himself has said he practically “fell asleep on the stage” because of a busy schedule in the weeks that preceded the debate.

On Wednesday night, Mr Biden hosted Democratic governors, including several politicians touted as his possible replacement, at the White House for a meeting about the crisis.

A spokesman for Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, said he was attending the meeting to “stand with” the president.


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