The interview appears not to change Democratic officials' views about Biden one way or the other


President Biden had planned to use his first televised interview following his poor performance to reassure supporters and silence voices within the Democratic Party calling for him to drop out of the debate.

But several Democrats who spoke after the interview aired on ABC News on Friday night indicated it did little to change their stance on whether they think Mr. Biden should stay in the race or drop out.

Some current and former Democratic officials who had called on Mr. Biden to end his re-election campaign said the interview did little or nothing to assuage their concerns. Reliant supporters of the president’s re-election campaign likewise appeared on television networks to once again declare they were with Mr. Biden.

Other Democrats who had raised concerns about the president’s performance but did not call on Mr. Biden to drop out said the interview did not significantly change their views about his candidacy.

The president’s Democratic critics, including those calling for him to step down, said Mr. Biden appeared either clueless or in denial about his reelection chances.

Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who was the first House Democrat to call on President Biden to drop out of the race, said in an interview on CNN shortly after the ABC broadcast that “the need for him to step down is more urgent tonight than it was when I first called for it on Tuesday.” He said Mr. Biden “doesn’t want his legacy to be that he hands our country over to a dictator.”

Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, also said Mr Biden should step aside, telling CNN that he found some of what he said in the interview “troubling” and that it was clear “the president of the United States does not have the passion necessary to address the deficit here.”

“He felt that as long as he kept trying his best, that’s what mattered most,” Mr. Quigley said, recalling Mr. Biden’s description of how he would feel if he lost to former President Donald J. Trump. “With the greatest respect: no.”

Some Democratic lawmakers who have consistently supported Mr. Biden said shortly after the interview that they would stick with the president. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, the Biden campaign chairman, and Representative Robert Garcia of California said they were ready to help the president win re-election in November.

“Democrats are going to have to take heart or take heart — one or the other,” said Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who has repeatedly tried to rally Democrats behind the president through expletive-laden social media posts, adding, “Joe Biden is our man.”

South Carolina Representative James Clyburn, a longtime ally of Mr. Biden, said on social media Friday night that “Joe Biden is who our country needs.”

And Representative Nanette Barragán, a California Democrat and the chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus who endorsed Mr. Biden, told CNN on Friday that Democrats should not talk about replacing him. Later in the evening, Ms. Barragán continued to defend Mr. Biden.

“Everyone seems to be looking for concerns — I don't see them,” she said. “He's quick to respond. He's to the point. He clearly understands the questions and topics and responds accordingly. It's a tough interview, and I think he handled it well.”

Ro Khanna, a California Democrat and Biden's surrogate, said in a statement that he expected more from Mr. Biden to win voters' trust — and “that requires more than one interview.”

“I expect full transparency from the White House on this issue, and a willingness to answer the many legitimate questions the media and voters have about its capabilities,” Mr. Khanna said.

Julian Castro, the former Democratic presidential candidate who had called on Mr Biden to drop out of the election, criticised the president after the interview, telling MSNBC that Mr Biden was “steadfast” in the interview but was “in denial of the decline that people can clearly see.”

Former Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio, who has also said Mr. Biden should step aside, said after the interview, “I don’t think he’s made any changes.”

“I don't think he excited anybody,” Mr. Ryan said on MSNBC. “I think he was somewhat out of touch with reality on the ground.”

“I’m concerned,” he said with a nervous laugh. “I’m concerned, as I think a lot of people are concerned, that he’s not the person capable of doing this job for us.”

Mark Buell, a major donor to Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party who has questioned the president's performance in the debate, said in a text message that “Biden is on a decline that he is trying to stop. If he doesn't succeed, he may soon become a verb.”

Maya C. Miller, Robert Jimmieson And Zolan Kanno-Youngs Contributed reporting from Washington. Simon J. Levien Contributed reporting from Massachusetts.


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