NY Times correspondent Shane Goldmacher says Biden is doubling down on promise to stay in presidential race despite 'debate flop'

 July 2, 2024

President Joe Biden will persist in his reelection bid despite valid concerns about his age and mental fitness, Shane Goldmacher of the New York Times reported. Even after his "debate flop," Biden shows no signs of stepping down amid cries to replace him.

"For years, President Biden has had a ready retort for the naysayers who have questioned his facility and fitness to run for president again at age 81 and to serve until he is 86. 'Watch me,' he has said," Goldmacher wrote.

"But in the days since tens of millions of Americans watched him fumble Thursday’s debate in real time, Mr. Biden has essentially adopted a new line: Trust me," the political correspondent noted. The trouble is that voters are increasingly finding it difficult to do that.

Biden took to the debate stage in Atlanta looking tired, old, and somewhat confused at times. Now Biden is asking them to take a leap of faith and stick by him despite the increasingly clear fact that he's no longer able to do his job.

The Evidence is Mounting

"It’s a cliché of political strategy that smart campaigns meet voters where they are. That typically means fashioning a strategy that taps into the public’s pre-existing feelings, rather than seeking to change how the electorate perceives matters," Goldmacher went on.

"Yet the trouble for the president is that even on the eve of his faltering debate, a New York Times/Siena College poll showed that 69 percent of voters — and 55 percent of Biden voters — saw Mr. Biden as too old to be an effective president. It is not a new concern: Nearly two years ago, a strong majority of Democratic voters said they wanted a new standard-bearer," Goldmacher noted.

Biden won the 2020 election by hiding in his basement and has run his presidency in much the same way, limiting time in public whenever possible. With that option off the table and last week's debate under his belt, even politicians in his own party are raising alarm bells.

"Now those persistent concerns from everyday Americans are being echoed publicly by many in the Democratic Party’s pundit class and privately by lawmakers, donors and strategists. They are worried about losing a 2024 campaign against former President Donald J. Trump, whom many view as an existential threat to the nation," Goldmacher wrote.

Rather than step aside, Biden dug his heels in while First Lady Jill Biden literally led him by the arm into campaigning for re-election. Meanwhile, the facade of a competent leader has falling by the wayside in a debate that was a disaster.

A Gross Miscalculation

The debate between Trump and Biden took place before either party held its convention. This unprecedented move was Biden's idea and now appears to be a gross miscalculation.

"This spring, Mr. Biden’s top brass pressed for the earliest general-election debate in history, as a way to force voters to sooner accept the reality of a Trump-Biden rematch that polls have repeatedly showed they do not want. It was a calculated gamble at a moment when Mr. Biden trailed in the polls," Goldmacher noted.

"The thinking at the time: Once that contrast became clearer and the contest undeniable, those on-the-fence Democrats would rejoin the party fold. Instead, the debate flop has ignited a fresh round of questions about whether Mr. Biden should stay atop the ticket," Goldmacher added.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the prevailing wisdom seems to be to stand by their man. "In the wake of the debate, senior Biden officials are making the case privately that switching candidates would be unrealistic, risky and chaotic. And in a fund-raising message, Rob Flaherty, a deputy campaign manager, explicitly argued that any alternative would 'be less likely to win than Joe Biden,'" Goldmacher added.

Unless Biden decides to step aside on his own, Democrats are stuck with this age-addled, confused, feeble man. However, they're getting exactly what they deserve for not doing something about him sooner.

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