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Biden Reportedly Considers Dropping Out as Polls Show Him Losing Key States

“He knows if he has two more events like [the debate], we’re in a different place,” a close Biden ally said.

President Joe Biden arrives for a news conference at the White House on July 1, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

As Democrats appear to be distancing themselves from the campaign to reelect Joe Biden and opening the door to other possibilities, the president has reportedly told a close ally that he is reconsidering whether he should stay in the race — the strongest indicator yet that he may drop out after his disastrous debate performance last week.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Biden told the ally within the last 24 hours that he is concerned that his candidacy is in dire straits after the debate and that he will essentially cede the race if he can’t salvage his image.

“He knows if he has two more events like that, we’re in a different place,” the ally reportedly said. Two upcoming events — an interview with ABC airing Friday and two campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over the weekend — are crucial for his ability to stay in the race, the anonymous source told the Times.

CNN confirmed this coverage in their own report on Wednesday, also citing an unnamed ally. (It’s unclear if this is the same ally cited by The New York Times.) If “the polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly,” Biden would have to reconsider the candidacy, the ally said. “He’s not oblivious.”

“He said: ‘I have done way too much foreign policy,’” the ally reportedly continued, blaming himself for his poor debate performance. “He said to me: ‘I have over done it. I did too much travel. I did too much back and forth. I did too much time change. I had a cold. That was a mistake.’”

According to the Times, the ally emphasized that Biden is still committed to the reelection fight, while White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said the report that Biden is considering dropping out is “absolutely false.” Per Politico, Biden also denied the report on a campaign call, saying, “Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can, as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running … no one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving.”

However, a top adviser told The New York Times that Biden is “well aware of the political challenge he faces,” potentially confirming the ally’s report.

Meanwhile, a number of other indicators seem to show that the writing is on the wall for Biden’s campaign. According to his schedule, on the same day as the Times report, Biden had lunch with Vice President Kamala Harris — a top-runner to replace him. Around the same time, the White House chief of staff Jeff Zients had organized an all-staff call.

Democratic leaders in Congress are reportedly not instructing the rank-and-file to rally behind Biden, while a group of Democrats is circulating a letter demanding that he step down that has yet to be released.

In the media, prominent Democrats are expressing doubts about his viability — on Tuesday, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (California) told MSNBC it is a “legitimate question” to ask if Biden is fit for the job.

In a separate interview, former Democratic House Whip Jim Clyburn (South Carolina) told MSNBC that he “will support [Kamala Harris] if [Biden] were to step aside.” He further said to CNN that he would support a “mini-primary” to choose a new candidate ahead of the Democratic National Convention in August.

These comments stand in sharp contrast to Pelosi and other establishment Democrats’ fierce defense of former California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) after reports raised questions about her declining health and ability to serve last year, when Democrats rebuked those who were calling on her to resign.

Rather, one House Democrat, Texas’s Lloyd Doggett, issued a statement yesterday straight out calling on Biden to step down. Doggett said that Biden should fulfill his promise of being “transitional” and step aside to allow a “new generation of leaders” to take the helm.

Polling numbers show that Biden has hemorrhaged support since the debate. Puck reported a leaked poll from a top Democratic firm that Biden is losing ground in states like New Hampshire, Virginia and New Mexico that were previously noncompetitive and may now be swinging toward Donald Trump. At the same time, the poll found that Harris is now, for the first time, polling better in one-to-one matchups against Trump than Biden is.

National polls show Biden is trailing behind Trump by significant margins. A New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday found that Trump leads Biden 49 to 41 percent among registered voters — the largest lead for Trump that the Times has recorded since 2015. A Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll found Biden trailing by 3 percent and an SSRS poll for CNN found Trump leading Biden by 6 percent.

Increasing proportions of Democrats, meanwhile, are saying they think a different candidate would fare better. The CNN poll found that 56 percent of Democrats say replacing Biden would increase the Democrats’ chance of winning, while the Suffolk/USA Today poll found that 41 percent of Democrats say he should be replaced.

The left has been warning for months that Biden’s prospects are low because of his support for Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Biden’s confused, at some points incoherent performance at the debate, however, seems to have delivered a jolt to the political establishment to come around on the idea.

Experts say it’s not too late to replace him, and that there is a pathway for the Democratic National Committee to do so if he chooses to step down. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) appeared to imply that some steps may already be underway in order to prepare for this possibility in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Tuesday.

“Everybody is asking one question within the Democratic Party, and I know that’s true of President Biden and Vice President Harris and my friend Lloyd Doggett and everybody in the House and Senate … and that is, ‘how do we defeat Donald Trump?’” said Raskin.

“I know this is a moving target. It’s got to happen quickly,” Raskin went on. “But I can guarantee you, Chris Hayes — there will be massive unity and focus on that task when we get to the end of this process. And it’s happening very quickly, I think.”

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