President Biden meets with Democratic governors after concerns over debate performance

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the nation about the Senate passing a supplemental for national security.WASHINGTON^ DC^ USA - February 13^ 2024
U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the nation about the Senate passing a supplemental for national security.WASHINGTON^ DC^ USA - February 13^ 2024

After concerns over last week’s presidential debate, President Biden met with 20 Democratic governors on Wednesday night to garner support for after his rocky performance. The meeting came just days after Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democratic lawmaker to call on Mr. Biden to drop out of the presidential race.

The governors at the meeting with Biden, 81, included Tim Walz of Minnesota, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association; Gavin Newsom of California; J.B. Pritzker of Illinois; Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan; Kathy Hochul of New York; Wes Moore of Maryland; John Carney of Delaware; Maura Healey of Massachusetts; Dan McKee of Rhode Island; and Andy Beshear of Kentucky. Vice President Kamala Harris was at the meeting, and others attended virtually. Biden told the governors during the private meeting that he underwent a medical checkup after last week’s debate, and is fine; however just hours earlier on Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that Biden hadn’t undergone any medical exams since February when he last received a thorough physical and took several tests.

In the meeting, three governors expressed criticism of Mr. Biden’s electoral chances in the wake of his debate last Thursday and openly questioned his ability to win their states. Two people familiar with Wednesday night’s meeting told CBS News that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Maine Gov. Janet Mills and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham expressed concerns with the president’s performance.

Outside the White House following the meeting, Walz told reporters that the Governors all “pledged our support to him because the stakes could not be higher. What we saw in there today was a guy who was the guy that all of us believed in the first time to beat Donald Trump. And he did beat Donald Trump …Yes, he’s fit for office. None of us are denying Thursday night was a bad performance. It was a bad hit, if you will, on that, but it doesn’t impact what I believe, that he’s delivering.”

Hochul said that Mr. Biden is “in it to win it,” adding that “all of us pledged our support to him, because the stakes could not be higher. I feel very confident in his abilities, we talked about the plan, and how he’s going to be very focused on issues that matter to Americans. And I felt very confident coming out of this meeting as well.”

Moore added that the group of governors “were honest” with Mr. Biden “about the feedback” they are receiving: “we were honest about the concerns that we were hearing from people. And we were also honest about the fact that, as the president continued to tell us and show us that he was all in, that we said we would stand with him.”

Newsom said via a statement through his office that he “heard three words from the President — he’s all in. And so am I. Joe Biden’s had our back. Now it’s time to have his.”

The Biden campaign has repeatedly dismissed the idea of his withdrawal, saying that the President will remain in the race. According to sources, the President said: “Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can and as simply and straightforward as I can: I am running. I’m the nominee of the Democratic Party. No one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Wednesday afternoon during a daily press briefing that “the president is clear-eyed and he is staying in the race. Anything else that we’re hearing or reporting is absolutely false,” she said, adding “and that’s directly from [Biden].”

On Friday, Biden will conduct an unscripted interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, and attend a campaign event in Madison, Wis.

Editorial credit: Jonah Elkowitz /

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