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Tipsheet

'Like a Funeral' 'Shell-Shocked,' Endless 'Tears': This House Dem Meeting on Biden Was a Mess

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

 Everyone was in a glass case of emotion.

It seems clear that overtures of a megadonor rebellion, heavyweight Democrats saying he should step aside, and House Democrats adding to the chorus would not pressure Joe Biden to do so following his June 27 debate. The president’s disastrous debate with Trump sparked the Democrats’ sprint into the panic rooms, which has yet to subside.

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Biden took days to collect himself, probably because he forgot he was president, to declare he wasn’t going anywhere. That wasn’t what Hill Democrats, who are panicked over their races, latched onto an unpopular president whom 75 percent of the country feels is too old to be in office. Biden backed out of a meeting with House Democrats today, opting not to waste his time. The quote that Fox News’ Chad Pergram said was “because he [Biden] does not want to meet with people who will say things he does not want to hear."

A smaller gathering of swing state Democrats also met today, which was a coping session. The Hill push to get Biden to drop out might be fizzling out, where the mood of this meeting was described as members being “shell-shocked,” some even broke down in tears. Other members were not happy at all that Biden was sticking around (via Axios): 

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Just before House Democrats' Tuesday morning "come-to-Jesus" meeting on President Biden's path forward, a smaller group of swing-district Democrats held what sources described as a despondent gathering with "actual tears." 

Why it matters: The bloc of battleground House Democrats is one of the last firm pockets of a rapidly disintegrating movement on Capitol Hill to get Biden off the ticket. 

One shell-shocked lawmaker who was present at the meeting would offer only one word to characterize it: "Intense." 

Another described the mood as "pretty much unanimous" that Biden has "got to step down," adding, "There were actual tears from people, and not for Biden."

Zoom out: Democrats' full caucus meeting was far less unanimous, with lawmakers both defending Biden and airing concerns about his ability to take on former President Trump, attendees told Axios. 

One House Democrat who was in both meetings said: "Most of our caucus is still with him ... meaning he'll stay in. Which sucks for our country." 

Going in and out of the meeting, several House Democrats who have previously raised concerns about Biden said they are now with him: "Whether or not I have concerns is besides the point. He is going to be our nominee and, we all have to support him," said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). 

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As the publication noted, was it a “come to Jesus” moment, or did Jill get on the phone and threaten to cut members of the party war chest ahead of the final and most expensive months of the election unless they changed course? Who knows? But Jill Biden's role as one of the primary forces in abusing her husband to remain in this race has been widely reported. During the official meeting among House Democrats, it was a mess. (via Politico):

In a closed-door caucus meeting hosted at Democrats’ campaign headquarters, increasingly distressed Democrats spoke candidly to each other for the first time since Biden’s unnerving debate performance. Several lawmakers who have already called for Biden to step aside made their case, provoking a larger block of the caucus that believes Democrats need to stay united behind the president, according to about a half-dozen members in the room.

“It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Biden-backer Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), who called the president’s critics a “circular firing squad.” 

[…] 

[Hakeem] Jeffries’ message, according to Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.), was to “stay together” and “listen to each other.” 

Many Democrats had hoped the meeting might provide some clarity on a path forward for the party, as lawmakers have grappled with which choice would be worse for their November prospects: sticking with Biden or tossing him aside. The continued state of limbo has exacerbated internal frustrations, as members worry their chances of both flipping the House and keeping twice-impeached Donald Trump out of the White House are growing worse. 

[…] 

Still, most of the voices at the meeting were in support of the president. But the internal divide was on full display — and many more are still harboring private doubts. 

[…] 

Senate Democrats will have their own family meeting Tuesday afternoon, though it’s doubtful they’ll have any more luck on charting a path forward.

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Heather Caygle of Punchbowl News wrote on Twitter, "I haven't talked to one who privately says they think Biden is capable of running and beating Trump at this point."

The debate was just a public airing of the concerns many of them have experienced/expressed privately. And that was from those who felt they actually got time with the president over the last year. Others have complained about very limited/controlled interactions. 

BUT they also don't want to be ostracized publicly and/or feel it's already determined that Biden will be the nominee.

For those siding with Biden, it's more because they're good soldiers—if Biden is going to be the nominee, then you must get behind him no matter what. It’s the rule. And if he does win, your political life will be turned into a living nightmare for the next four years for the perceived disloyalty, and Biden’s inner circle considers any criticism as such. There are time constraints, too, but it’s also clear that a large swath of the party does not like this guy but is forced to keep him around. Talk about being emblematic of the unenthusiasm permeating the Democratic Party base about this election. 

The June 27 debate also blew up any confidence House Democrats had of handily retaking back the lower chamber. There’s still a window for things to get messy, but time is ticking. Meanwhile, Trump can sit back, relax, and watch the mayhem from afar, which he’s been doing.

***

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