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Joe Biden

How Joe Biden is losing Hill Democrats

President Joe Biden lost Thursday’s debate. Now he’s losing the debate after the debate — in a resounding and embarrassing fashion.

Hill Democrats are growing increasingly wary of sticking with Biden following his disastrous performance in the Atlanta faceoff versus former President Donald Trump.

The underwhelming response since then from Biden, his campaign operation and the White House has angered scores of rank-and-file Democrats. They’ve been pressuring their own leadership for more insight into what’s happening with the party’s standard bearer just four months out from an election, according to more than a dozen lawmakers and aides.

“This can’t just be the Bidens talking among themselves,” a veteran House Democrat complained Tuesday night. “This is the presidency we’re talking about here.”

Although Hill Democrats have had practically no outreach since the Atlanta debate from the administration, Biden will meet this evening with Democratic governors at the White House.

Yet the crisis is much more immediate for Hill Democrats. Every House Democrat has Biden at the top of the ticket in November, while Senate Democrats running in red states where Trump will romp to victory face an even tougher challenge.

Biden called House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Tuesday night, according to a source familiar with the situation. There’s also been some calls by senior White House officials, including White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients and Steve Ricchetti, a top aide.

Another senior House Democrat put it this way of Biden: “He needs to start showing and stop telling. Otherwise, he will lose more House Dems. It’s that acute.” This lawmaker said the “next wave” of Democrats that come out against Biden will be senior members and veteran senators whose opposition could prove fatal to the president’s reelection bid.

Democrats are also angry with White House and Biden campaign aides. A Democratic senator who was granted anonymity to candidly assess the situation told us that “we kind of just feel lied to” about the president’s condition.

“They’ve been shielding him from those types of settings for months and even after it became undeniable, they’re still lying to us,” the Democratic senator said. “There’s just a lot of frustration right now in the caucus.”

A common theme among our conversations with Democrats is that they believe more lawmakers will follow the lead of Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Wash.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) in questioning whether Biden should stay on the ticket or openly declaring that he can’t beat Trump in November. MGP and Golden, both DCCC Frontline members, announced in local media that Trump will defeat Biden.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), appearing on MSNBC Tuesday night with Chris Hayes, was asked if he agreed with Doggett. Raskin said “there will be lots of discussion and lots of people weighing in and I know this is a moving target. It’s got to happen quickly.” Raskin added that there will be “massive unity and focus” once Democrats decide whether Biden should be the nominee.

Biden hasn’t done an interview since the debate, despite the public pleadings of many Democrats. Biden — who will head to Wisconsin on Friday — will sit down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, but that’s days too late for many Democrats. When Biden addressed reporters after the Supreme Court ruled that Trump can’t be prosecuted for official acts, the president didn’t take any questions.

During a campaign event Tuesday night, Biden blamed his debate fumbles on too much international travel: “I decided to travel around the world a couple of times… I almost fell asleep on stage.”

We’ll note, however, that Biden spent six days at Camp David prepping for the debate and had been back stateside for nearly two weeks.

Frontliners and “national security Democrats” are getting a lot of attention from House Democratic leaders. They’re watching closely what these two factions say about the president.

When we reached out to Frontline Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) to get his thoughts on Doggett’s bombshell, he hardly delivered a ringing endorsement of Biden. Landsman said while he believes the president is a good man, “it’s a question of whether Biden can effectively make the case against Trump.”

The statements from Golden, Doggett and MGP got a lot of attention on Tuesday. Yet it was the comments from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) — two of Biden’s most important allies in the party — that really stood out.

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Pelosi said that it is “a legitimate question to say, is this an episode, or is this a condition” — referring to Biden’s inability to complete thoughts or speak lucidly at times during the debate.

Clyburn, also appearing with Mitchell, said he would “wait on the experts in medicine to give their opinion” on Biden’s condition. Clyburn said he would support Vice President Kamala Harris if Biden stepped down, although Clyburn noted that he wanted the ticket to remain as is.

— Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan, Andrew Desiderio and Max Cohen

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