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Tipsheet

Is This Why Biden Is Digging in So Aggressively Regarding Staying in the 2024 Race?

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

It’s been days since his June 27 disaster on live television. Joe Biden got annihilated by Donald Trump in the first debate. It set off a panic among Democrats, with many calling for the president to step aside. His popularity is in the low 30s, he’s trailing Trump in most swing states—his standing in Pennsylvania is looking more dire by the day—and three-fourths of the country think he’s too old to be effective. The state of the Biden campaign is just as atrocious as Joe’s soporific debate performance. He’s heading for defeat, but you’ll never get him to admit that—his ABC News interview last Friday was a textbook example of denialism. 

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Even with some heavyweight names calling for him to drop out, Joe is sticking to his guns, even if it means destroying the party in the process; we’re poised for all-out civil war ahead of the convention. Why is Joe Biden clinging onto his presidency like grim death? It’s a point of pride, ego, and a burning desire to prove his critics wrong again. The president sees the internal voices of opposition as those who advised him not to run in 2016. They did so again in 2020, but he ran and won, thanks to the party elites he now loathes. A top Democratic Party donor and operative, Dmitri Mehlhorn, expounded on Biden’s deep intransigence over his 2024 nomination (via Drop Site News):

The key thing to understand about Biden’s resistance to dropping out, Mehlhorn said, is that Biden believes he should have run in 2016, but let himself be talked out of it—and won’t make that mistake again. “I want to just go a little bit deeper into the decision-making process of Joe Biden,” Mehlhorn told me. “Joe Biden is haunted by the fact that in 2016, he listened to these arguments. And he's right. We were all wrong. If he'd run in 2016, we would not be here. A lot of people—not us as much this time—but a lot of people made those same arguments to him in 2020 and he stubbornly, stubbornly resisted all of them. And he saved us.” 

Mehlhorn said the reverse was true in 2020. “So all of these arguments came at him in '16. He listened, the world suffered grievously. All of these arguments came at him in 2020. He refused to listen, the world benefited tremendously,” Mehlhorn said. “America now has the strongest economy of the world, we are powering the world economy, we are leading the free world against Russian aggression because he refused to listen to these arguments. So right now, who is he going to listen to? I believe that fundamentally, he is going to listen to voters.” 

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Listening to the voters isn’t a controversial take, but it’s also where Biden has high support: 66 percent of self-identified Democrats don’t want him to drop out, especially women. The base wants him to stay, backed by Democratic governors, though they’re in it for purely political reasons: they don’t want to see Kamala anywhere near the presidency. If Biden steps aside, Harris replaces him, and loses to Trump narrowly, the California Democrat has a lot of wind behind her for 2028. If Biden exits, Harris replaces him, and beats Trump, many governors with presidential aspirations will have to wait. The plan is transparent, so Hill Democrats are extremely irritated with the governor contingent. 

The whole shutting down Putin talk and being the architects of some powerhouse economy are fantasyland lines, but this is what you have to say when you’re a top ally of the president.


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