Gov. Healey, other Democrats to meet with Biden over concerns after debate
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Gov. Healey, other Democrats to meet with Biden over concerns after debate

Several Democratic governors, including Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, will visit the White House on Wednesday as the party responds to concerns raised by President Joe Biden’s recent debate performance. Healey’s office confirmed she will attend the meeting with the president. White House officials said the meeting, which will be closed to the press, will be held in the Roosevelt Room at 6:30 p.m. Governors want to ensure the 81-year-old president is fit for the job and the campaign for a second term following a halting debate performance that many in his own party considered disastrous. Ahead of the meeting, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise appearance on a Democratic National Committee call, reiterating to staffers that they are in this reelection fight together. Three people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press it was a pep talk, stressing the stakes of the election and returning to Biden’s previous post-debates comments that when he gets knocked down he gets back up and still plans to win the election. “I am running. I am the leader of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out,” Biden said, according to a top aide who posted his comment on the X social media platform.Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett recently became the first Democratic member of Congress to publicly say the President should drop out of the race. Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said he was horrified by Biden’s debate performance.”I think people want to make sure that this is a campaign that is ready to go and win,” Whitehouse said. “That the president and his team are being candid with us about his condition.”Biden’s campaign and administration have tried to reassure voters and allies that he remains fit for the job, but it appears that many top Democrats remain uncertain. “He had a cold and a bad night. I would not see this as an episode,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. One of Biden’s closest allies, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said that if the president exits the race, Democrats should rally around Vice President Kamala Harris. A recent CNN poll shows Harris performs better against former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, than Biden.Previous presidential campaigns may offer lessons for an incumbent candidate who is trying to unite his party. None convey reasons for optimism.Going back to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, several presidents eligible for reelection faced significant primary challenges or questions about whether they should run again. George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford pushed forward and won their nominations, only to be defeated in November. Johnson opted to withdraw — and Democrats lost anyway. Biden had no real primary fight. But his allies now acknowledge how poorly the president performed in his debate against Trump. They’ve fretted privately about Biden’s ability to serve until he is 86, and, more immediately, whether he can keep the job by defeating the Republican former president — himself a 78-year-old saddled with a felony conviction, other indictments and voter concerns over his values and temperament.The warning from history is ominous: Incumbent presidents still working to consolidate and reassure their own party this late in a first term typically do not get a second.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Several Democratic governors, including Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, will visit the White House on Wednesday as the party responds to concerns raised by President Joe Biden’s recent debate performance.

Healey’s office confirmed she will attend the meeting with the president. White House officials said the meeting, which will be closed to the press, will be held in the Roosevelt Room at 6:30 p.m.

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Governors want to ensure the 81-year-old president is fit for the job and the campaign for a second term following a halting debate performance that many in his own party considered disastrous.

Ahead of the meeting, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made a surprise appearance on a Democratic National Committee call, reiterating to staffers that they are in this reelection fight together. Three people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press it was a pep talk, stressing the stakes of the election and returning to Biden’s previous post-debates comments that when he gets knocked down he gets back up and still plans to win the election.

“I am running. I am the leader of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out,” Biden said, according to a top aide who posted his comment on the X social media platform.

Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett recently became the first Democratic member of Congress to publicly say the President should drop out of the race.

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said he was horrified by Biden’s debate performance.

“I think people want to make sure that this is a campaign that is ready to go and win,” Whitehouse said. “That the president and his team are being candid with us about his condition.”

Biden’s campaign and administration have tried to reassure voters and allies that he remains fit for the job, but it appears that many top Democrats remain uncertain.

“He had a cold and a bad night. I would not see this as an episode,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

One of Biden’s closest allies, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, said that if the president exits the race, Democrats should rally around Vice President Kamala Harris. A recent CNN poll shows Harris performs better against former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, than Biden.

Previous presidential campaigns may offer lessons for an incumbent candidate who is trying to unite his party. None convey reasons for optimism.

Going back to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968, several presidents eligible for reelection faced significant primary challenges or questions about whether they should run again. George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford pushed forward and won their nominations, only to be defeated in November. Johnson opted to withdraw — and Democrats lost anyway.

Biden had no real primary fight. But his allies now acknowledge how poorly the president performed in his debate against Trump. They’ve fretted privately about Biden’s ability to serve until he is 86, and, more immediately, whether he can keep the job by defeating the Republican former president — himself a 78-year-old saddled with a felony conviction, other indictments and voter concerns over his values and temperament.

The warning from history is ominous: Incumbent presidents still working to consolidate and reassure their own party this late in a first term typically do not get a second.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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