Biden Stands Firm Against Democratic Doubts

President Joe Biden's unwavering stance on staying in the presidential race sends a clear message to hesitant Democrats: any criticism now only helps Donald Trump.

Despite a lackluster debate performance, Biden has repeatedly affirmed he will be the party's nominee unless "the Lord Almighty" intervenes. On Monday, he reinforced this commitment.

It started with an open letter to congressional Democrats affirming his candidacy, followed by a defiant call to a favorite cable news show, denouncing the "elites" pushing him out. He also spoke to top campaign financiers via video call and engaged with the Congressional Black Caucus.

"I am not going anywhere," Biden declared to donors.

This defiance aims to garner respect as Democratic lawmakers return to Capitol Hill after a break. Biden's team is also trying to portray calls for his withdrawal as the work of party elites, not grassroots voters concerned about his age and acuity.

"I love this fighting Joe Biden," said Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif., a vocal supporter. "When he takes a punch, he punches back harder."

Biden received crucial support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ("He is in this race; the matter is closed"), but also concern from influential figures like Sen. Patty Murray of Washington ("We need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate").

Both privately and publicly, Biden emphasized his control over his political future. He has won every state in the Democratic primaries and secured nearly all delegates heading to the party's convention in Chicago next month.

"I'm more than the presumptive," Biden told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. "I'm going to be the Democratic nominee."

Biden aims to refocus on Trump, telling campaign financiers, "We’re done talking about the debate. It's time to put Trump in the bull's-eye."

Some allies questioned the timing of this public-relations push, noting it came over 10 days after the debate. Biden only gave his first unscripted interview with ABC News eight days later and delayed calls to congressional leaders.

David Doak, a veteran Democratic strategist, said Biden's firm stance is understandable but risky, potentially dividing the party. "It is what I would advise him to do to hold onto the nomination at all costs," Doak said. "But it's the 'at all costs' that's the question."

On MSNBC, Biden challenged those seeking a different nominee to run against him. "Go ahead, announce for president," he dared. "Challenge me at the convention."

In 2020, Biden saw himself as a "bridge" to the next generation of Democrats. Now, he believes he is the best candidate to defeat Trump again, despite concerns about his age.

"I wouldn't be running if I didn't absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024," Biden said.

Though he holds the top position in the party, Biden on Monday positioned himself as an outsider fighting the establishment.

"I'm frustrated by the elites," he said on MSNBC, though he excluded the "Morning Joe" hosts. "The elites in the party think they know so much more," he added with disdain.

His weekend campaigning in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin reinforced his belief in voter support. "I don't care what the millionaires think," he said.

Shortly after, Biden participated in a Zoom call with top donors to thank them for their support.

Biden's attempt to frame the race as a fight against the elites, similar to Trump's rhetoric, didn't sit well with some Democrats.

"This desire to wedge the 'Dem elite' against 'regular folk' is bad," Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, wrote on social platform X. "The elite are actually late to concerns about Biden. A majority of voters have been concerned about this for the last two years."

A New York Times/Siena College poll showed 74% of voters think Biden is too old to be effective, including 59% of Democrats.

After some influential House Democrats aired concerns about Biden privately, his team secured more public support from key Black lawmakers.

"I am 100% with the president," said Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. The current chair, Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, also stood by Biden: "President Joe Biden is the nominee chosen by millions of voters."

Rep. Grace Meng of New York, a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, also expressed support. However, some critics, like Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, remained silent publicly.

Biden faced fresh doubts Monday. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, up for reelection in a Trump-leaning state, said the president "has got to prove to the American people — including me — that he's up to the job for another four years." Rep. Greg Landsman of Ohio warned, "time is running out" for Biden to make his case repeatedly.

Biden's next steps will be discussed at a House Democrats briefing on Tuesday.

Many allies are concerned about Biden's ability to handle unscripted appearances. On Monday, White House spokesperson John Kirby announced Biden would hold a "big boy press conference" after a NATO summit on Thursday.

However, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced questions about a Parkinson's expert's frequent White House visits.

Ron Klain, Biden's former chief of staff, noted on X that "it takes the right candidate" to beat Trump. "Only one person has beaten him," Klain added.