Pundits Suggest Biden Drop Out After Shaky Debate—But Gavin Newsom Dismisses Running

Topline

A range of Trump-critical commentators wondered aloud Thursday about whether President Joe Biden should drop out of the 2024 presidential election and let the Democratic party pick a replacement candidate, after his shaky performance at the first debate on Thursday night– although one of the touted replacement picks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, dismissed questions about Biden dropping out as a “non-sequitur.”

Key Facts

Appearing on CNN after the debate, former White House official and chief strategist for President Barack Obama’s election campaign, David Axelrod, said, “There are going to be discussions about whether he should continue.”

In an op-ed late Thursday, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote: “After the debate, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that Biden remaining in the race increases the likelihood that Trump will move into the White House in January” and the president “can resolve this by withdrawing from the race.”

Meanwhile, CNN analyst and one-time Obama administration staffer Van Jones said “There are going to be a lot of people who want him to consider taking a different course now…there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward if he [Biden] will allow us to do that.

Over on MSNBC, anchor Nicole Wallace—a former Republican staffer-turned-vehement critic of Donald Trump and the GOP—said Biden’s debate performance has triggered a “frank conversation inside the Democratic coalition” and added, “You can [change a candidate]…there were people talking about how that process works, and that conversation is live and active at the highest levels of the Democratic party.”

Lincoln Project founder Steve Schmidt—another former GOP staffer known for his staunch Trump opposition—wrote on X: “Joe Biden lost the country tonight, and will not get it back. If Trump is a threat and democracy is on the line, then Biden must step aside. His duty, oath and legacy require an act of humility and selflessness.”

Former MSNBC anchor and political commentator Mehdi Hasan was also critical of Biden’s debate performance and said he “must go” and people are “deluded” if they believe “Joe Biden at this stage of his life is the best person that Democrats have to offer against Donald Trump, against a fascist.”

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Contra

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose name has been floated for months as a potential replacement for Biden if he drops out, was dismissive of the idea. When asked by reporters in the spin room if was “ready to replace Joe Biden” if needed Newsom said he was “very proud of the president” and the question of him running in November is “a non sequitur.” The California Gov. later appeared on MSNBC and delivered a more impassioned defense of Biden and all talks about “panic” is “unhelpful and I think its unnecessary…We’ve got to have the back of this president…You don’t turn your back because of one performance. What kind of party does that?”

Big Number

44%. Those are the odds of Biden dropping out of the race according to betting markets tracked by the prediction market platform Polymarket. This is a sharp uptick from 19% prior to the debate.

Crucial Quote

“We see the world through narratives, and one of the narratives about Biden is that he is too old. His performance reinforced that narrative when he needed to shatter it,” Kristoff wrote in his op-ed. He added that Biden was “unable to puncture Trump’s repeated falsehoods, allowed a convicted felon to win the debate.”

Further Reading

Biden’s Debate Performance Torched—Even By Trump Foes—Over Weak Voice And Verbal Stumbles: ‘Hard To Watch’ (Forbes)

Biden Calls Trump A ‘Convicted Felon,’ ‘Sucker’ And ‘Loser’ In Tense Debate—And Trump Calls Biden A ‘Criminal’ (Forbes)

Biden Loses Train Of Thought And Corrects Himself Repeatedly In Debate With Trump (Forbes)

First appeared on www.forbes.com

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