Biden assures donors he can still win election

7 hours ago

By Sofia Ferreira SantosBBC News

grey-placeholder Biden assures donors he can still win electiond2718eb0-3691-11ef-9a42-0917c697cc54.jpg Biden assures donors he can still win electionReuters

President Biden and the First Lady arriving in New Jersey for a fundraiser

US President Joe Biden has assured Democrat donors that he can still win November’s presidential election against Donald Trump, after a poor debate performance fuelled concern about his candidacy.

The president, 81, attended a series of fundraising events in New York and New Jersey on Saturday, and defended his performance in CNN’s Presidential Debate.

Speaking at one event, Mr Biden admitted, “I didn’t have a great night, but neither did Trump” on Thursday.

“I promise you we’re going to win this election,” he said.

Mr Biden’s debate performance was marked by hard-to-follow and shaky answers – raising fresh fears among some Democrats over whether he is the right candidate to contest this high-stakes election.

Former Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr Biden’s debate performance “wasn’t great” – while his former communications director, Kate Bedingfield, called it “really disappointing”.

Voters in the US have regularly shared doubts about Mr Biden’s mental and cognitive health, and early polling after the debate shows the number who doubt his ability to serve as president has only grown.

On 9 June, a CBS News poll found that 65% of registered voters said that the president does not have the mental fitness to serve as president. The network released a new poll on Sunday that showed that number had jumped to 72% after his poor debate performance.

Biden campaign chairwoman Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said on Saturday, however, that internal post-debate polling showed “voters’ opinions were not changed”.

“It will not be the first time that overblown media narratives have driven temporary dips in the polls,” she said.

While the Biden campaign has acknowledged that the debate had not gone as they had hoped, it has maintained its stance that the president will not step aside for another nominee.

Mr Biden has also said he understands the concerns, but pledged to fight harder.

New Jersey’s Democratic governor Phil Murphy attended the fundraiser in his state alongside Mr Biden and the First Lady – and told Mr Biden that “we are all with you 1,000%”.

Former President Barack Obama, who remains a popular figure in the Democratic party, said on social media that “bad debate nights happen”.

“This election is still a choice between someone who fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself,” Mr Obama wrote.

Hours after the debate, Mr Trump told his supporters that he considered the debate a “big victory” for his campaign.

“Joe Biden’s problem is not his age,” the 78-year-old Trump said. “It’s his competence. He’s grossly incompetent.”

Name-calling and insults – key moments from Biden and Trump’s debate

Mr Biden’s performance was not only criticised by those in politics.

A prominent editorial in the New York Times described his determination to run again as a “reckless gamble”, and urged him to do some soul-searching this weekend.

It said Democrats should “acknowledge that Mr Biden can’t continue his race, and create a process to select someone more capable to stand in his place”.

Voters across the United States have also expressed concerns over voting for either candidate following Thursday’s debate.

Long-time Democrat Lori Gregory told the BBC that she “could not handle” watching the debate, and asked, “is this the best our country can do?”

Republican Crystal Myers-Barber said it was “painful to watch”, but added that she thought “Trump came across very level-headed and presidential and Biden came across very weak.”

Democrat Shana Ziolko said she was “frustrated” watching the debate, and thought there was no clear winner.

A post-debate poll by liberal pollster Data for Progress found that 62% of likely voters who watched or read about the debate found Trump won. Only 30% of those polled said Mr Biden won the debate.

Until further polling is conducted, fundraising could be another indication of continued enthusiasm for Mr Biden’s candidacy.

In a memo, chairwoman Jennifer O’Malley Dillon said the campaign had raised more than $27m (£21.3m) from the Thursday debate to Friday evening.

“Following Thursday night’s debate, the beltway class is counting Joe Biden out. The data in the battleground states, though, tells a different story,” she said.

“This election was incredibly close before Thursday, and by every metric we’ve seen since, it remains just as close”, she added.

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