Katty Kay: Reality sinks in as Democrats weigh Biden’s future


In the early hours of Friday morning, a string of high-profile Democratic strategists, pundits, and former officials joined the call for Mr. Biden to bow out. I appeared on Morning Joe, an American political morning show that the president frequently watches. Joe Scarborough, the host of the program and a defender of the president, made the point that while Mr Biden can still govern the country, perhaps he no longer has what it takes to win the election.

So where does that leave Joe Biden?

First, it is important to remember that the decision of whether to continue is – more or less – entirely his. At this point, if he doesn’t want to step back, it’s virtually impossible for him to be removed from the ticket. One campaign source told me any decision to step down would be made by a very small group that includes the president, his wife and his sister, Val Biden.

Second, right now the conversation about whether to replace Mr Biden is happening in public among pundits and former officials but it’s still only happening in private among those with actual influence.

Indeed this morning, several of the president’s allies (who are also, awkwardly, being floated as his potential replacements) took to television and social media to defend him.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was “very proud of the president”. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro told Democrats to “stop worrying”. Senator John Fetterman put it bluntly, saying: “I refuse to join the Democratic vultures on Biden’s shoulder.”

My reporting suggests no changes will be made imminently. The team wants to give the president a chance to get out in public and erase the memory of that debate appearance.

On Friday, at a markedly more energetic rally in North Carolina, Mr Biden attempted to put concerns over his age and his debate performance to rest. “I know I’m not a young man,” he said. “I would not be running again if I did not believe with all my heart and soul I can do this job.”

On Saturday, he will travel to the ultra-wealthy Hamptons region of New York for fundraisers with Democratic donors.

A source on the campaign tells me that, at the moment, the chance of him stepping aside is only around 5%. But if donors were to abandon him en masse, they acknowledge that could change and prompt a speedier decision about his candidacy.


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