Biden Emphatically Insists He’s Staying in Race at Wisconsin Rally

President Joe Biden made clear he intends to remain the 2024 Democratic nominee for president despite growing calls for him to end his campaign amid concerns about his health and cognitive abilities.

During a campaign event in Madison, Wisconsin, Biden acknowledged that his showing in last week’s debate against former President Donald Trump was not his “best performance,” but insisted that “I am running and going to win again.”

The 81-year-old president, eager to quell concerns about his ability to keep up with the rigors of campaigning and elected office, once again stumbled at several points throughout the speech.

“I’m staying in the race. I’ll beat Donald Trump. I will beat him again in 2020. By the way we’re going to do it again in 2024,” he said, confusing the year in which he and Trump first went head to head for the presidency.

Biden reminded those present that he has a lock on the Democratic nomination, and touted voter support as his reason for refusing to back out of the race.

“I’m the nominee of this party because millions of Democrats like you just voted for me in primaries all across America,” he said. “You voted for me to be your nominee. No one else. You the votes — the voters, did that. Despite that, some folks don’t seem to care who you voted for. Well guess what? They’re trying push me out of the race.”

The president also attempted to redirect voter attention back to the threat posed by Trump. “Let me ask you something, after what Tump did on January 6, why would anyone ever let him be near the oval office again?” Biden asked. “The issue of this election is what kind of America do we want to be?”

But for many, the very real danger to Democratic norms posed by Donald Trump makes Biden’s declining health and ability to campaign effectively even more concerning.  A CBS News poll conducted after the debate found that 72 percent of registered voters believe Biden does not have the mental and cognitive health to be president of the United States. For many Democratic donors, lawmakers, party officials, and voters, there’s too much at stake in November’s election to risk running a candidate that voters perceive as too old to effectively govern.

As Biden was speaking in Wisconsin, The Washington Post reported that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is attempting to form a coalition of Democratic senators who would openly call for the president to step aside and hand the campaign over to a younger candidate — likely Vice President Kamala Harris.

On Tuesday Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) issued a statement calling for Biden to “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

With mounting pressure on Biden, the White House and his campaign are attempting to combat the public’s anxiety with carefully orchestrated public appearances intended to show Biden as a vigorous, capable statesman who had a one-off bad night. On Friday night, ABC News will air the first sit-down interview with the president since his disastrous debate, an opportunity many in Biden’s camp believe will shut down the tide of criticism.

But for many voters, there’s no going back. One rally-goer in Wisconsin made their thoughts clear through a sign held up behind the podium from which the president spoke: “PASS THE TORCH, JOE.”

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