Biden tells allies he knows he has days to save the nomination

President Biden told key allies that he knows the days ahead are critical and understands that he cannot save his candidacy if he can’t convince voters after last week’s disastrous debate.

According to two associates who spoke with him, Mr. Biden insisted he remains deeply committed to his re-election bid, but he understands his credibility as a candidate is on the line.

Even as White House officials tried to calm nerves among ranks in the Biden administration, the president tried to exude confidence in a call with his campaign staff on Wednesday.

“Nobody pushed me out,” Mr. Biden said on the call. “I did not go.”

Vice President Kamala Harris was also in line.

“We will not back down. We will follow the lead of our president,” he said. “We will fight and we will win.”

However, Mr. Biden’s allies say the president has privately acknowledged that his next few appearances over the July 4 holiday weekend should go well, particularly an interview scheduled for Friday with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos and campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“If he has two more incidents like this, we’re in a different place,” he knew. By the end of the week, one of the associates, Mr. He notes Biden’s halting and unfocused performance in the debate. The person, who spoke with the president in the past 24 hours, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the tense situation.

Accounts of his conversations with allies are the first public signs that the president is seriously considering whether to bounce back after a disastrous performance on the debate stage in Atlanta last Thursday.

In a new poll by The New York Times and Siena College, former President Donald J. Trump now leads Mr. Biden 49 percent to 43 percent among voters nationally, a three-point swing toward the Republican party from a week ago. Discussion. The six-point deficit underscores the growing challenges for the campaign, and while some insiders worry it could have been worse, it will become harder to hang on.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the president told her directly that he had not spoken to allies about dropping out of the race.

“This is completely false,” he said during the briefing. Mr. While tempering speculation about Biden stepping down, Ms. Jean-Pierre also referred to Ms. Harris, who sees growing support among Democrats, as “the future of the party.”

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Mr. One of Biden’s allies, his top adviser, also spoke on condition of anonymity, saying the president is “well aware of the political challenge he faces.”

Mr. Biden knew, the person said. Mr. Biden, the person said, is an effective leader who is mentally sharp and “can’t understand how other people can’t accept that.”

The Times said Tuesday that several current and former officials and others who met with the president behind closed doors noticed that in the weeks and months leading up to the debate, he seemed increasingly flustered or indifferent, or seemed to lose the thread of conversations.

Mr. Biden still believes his debate was a poor performance and not a revealing event about his ability to do the job for four years, the person said.

Major party donors have personally called House members, senators, super PACs, the Biden campaign and the White House, and Mr. Democrats familiar with the debate say they think Biden should step down. On Wednesday, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, who has become one of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party in recent years, asked Mr. Called Biden.

“Biden must step aside to allow a serious Democratic leader to defeat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” he said in an email to the Times.

An elected Democrat, speaking on condition of anonymity given political sensitivities, said the decision is still ultimately up to Mr. He said it depends on Biden. “The only thing that matters is his decision about whether he’s going to give it up or not,” the person said.

Inside the White House, senior officials tried to calm nerves in a staff-level conference call. Jeff Giants, the White House chief of staff, told the president’s staff to keep their heads down and say, “Execute, execute, execute.” Mr. Sciants also told them to “hold your head up high” and be proud, which he admitted had an element of ironic humor.

Later in the day, Mr. Giants appeared in a separate call, Mr. Biden did a weekly check-in among Cabinet officials and echoed many of the talking points he shared with staffers, according to a person familiar with the call.

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Mr. Biden has been slow to personally reach out to key Democrats to assuage their concerns, sparking anger in the party and frustrating some of his own advisers.

Mrs. According to Jean-Pierre, the president is now “connected” to New York’s representative, Hakeem Jeffries; Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, Majority Leader; Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, former Speaker; Representative James E. of South Carolina. Clyburn; and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

The president had lunch with Ms. Harris at the White House, and the two later met with Democratic governors. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walls told reporters at the White House that the group had a “frank” conversation with the president and that the governors “have his back.”

Mr. “A path to victory in November is the No. 1 priority, and that’s the president’s No. 1 priority,” Walls said.

However, following the meeting Mr. Although the governors presented a united front in support of Biden, a half-dozen governors expressed concerns during the session.

Governor Janet Mills of Maine Mr. He openly told Biden that his age was good but that people didn’t think he was ready to run.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate said Wednesday that Mr. Not urging their members to rally around Biden. Instead, they were hearing countless complaints about the president’s handling of the situation from across the party, including the centrist wing of the party and its progressives. Major donors expressed anger that they did not join Monday’s campaign call. And some Democrats are increasingly suspicious that the president’s team hasn’t been fully forthcoming about the impact aging has had on him.

Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingle said during an interview on MSNBC that Mr.

“He needs to show the American people that he can do this job,” he said. “He can’t be wrapped up in a bubble now.”

Mr. Many of Biden’s allies have underscored that he is still in the fight of his political life, and that he largely sees this moment as an opportunity to bounce back from being counted out, as he has done so many times in his half-century career. At the same time, he is clear about how uphill the battle will be to convince voters, donors and the political class that his debate program is an anomaly and not disqualified.

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As unrest in the party continues to grow, some of the president’s advisers have grown pessimistic over the past day or so, reflecting unhappiness not only with the performance of the debate but also with the way it has been handled since then.

Mr. Biden, including his son Hunter Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. Most of Biden’s family supports the president continuing his campaign.

“Because there’s a lot of talk out there,” Dr. Biden told a crowd celebrating the opening of a campaign office in suburban Traverse City, Mich., “I’ll repeat what my husband said clearly and clearly: Joe is the Democratic nominee who is going to beat Donald Trump, just like he did in 2020.

Mr. Biden’s team sought to build a firewall by lobbying elected Democrats and well-known party figures.

But Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democrat on Tuesday to call for the president to step down. Two others — Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Mary Klusenkomp Perez of Washington — say they believe he will lose in November.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, said Mr. He cast doubt on Biden’s chances of victory.

“I deeply respect President Biden and all the great things he has done for America, but I have grave concerns about his ability to defeat Donald Trump,” he said. “Winning will require making the case in the media, in town halls and at campaign stops across the country. President Biden will have to prove he can do it. The unfortunate reality is that the status quo will give us President Trump.”

Others have privately indicated that they may follow suit and speak up.

Peter Baker, Nicholas Nehamas, Simon J. Levian, Michael D. Sheer Mitch Smith, Theodore Shleifer,Maggie Haberman And Luke Broadwater Contributed report.

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