Biden Meets Black Lawmakers, Pushes to Quash Democratic Revolt

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden sought to quell Democratic infighting about his presidential campaign, saying he was determined to remain in the race and challenging dissenters to end talk of his removal from the ballot.

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“I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump,” Biden wrote in a two-page letter addressed to Democratic lawmakers and released by his campaign.

Biden sent the letter, made an unscheduled call-in appearance on MSNBC and spoke to donors on Monday as members of Congress returned to Washington for the first time since his debate performance set off a panic about his ability to defeat Trump and serve another four years.

“We can’t waste any more time being distracted,” the president said on a previously scheduled call with his financial backers, alongside Maryland Governor Wes Moore and campaign chair Jennifer O’Malley Dillon.

On Monday evening, the president took part in a virtual conversation with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Over the weekend, some prominent House Democrats said privately they want Biden, 81, to step aside. The president’s letter makes clear he will not go quietly — giving Democrats concerned about his campaign a choice between a drawn-out power struggle or uniting behind a candidate they believe will lead them to defeat.

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end,” Biden wrote in his letter. “Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party and defeat Donald Trump.”

At least nine House Democrats have said they believe Biden should no longer be their presidential nominee, including some senior party members who made their stance known on Sunday on a private virtual call organized by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Representative Adam Smith, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, became the most senior member from his party to publicly call for Biden to be replaced.

Earlier: Key House Democrat on National Security Calls on Biden to Quit

Jeffries on Monday told reporters that “I made clear publicly the day after the debate that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.”

Representative Steve Horsford of Nevada, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said on CNN Monday night that “this president is fit and prepared to continue to serve.”

“There will be no other nominee than President Biden,” he added.

A Biden campaign official said that during the meeting, the president discussed the stakes of the election and that the support of the caucus was very important to him.

Biden on MSNBC’s Morning Joe said he was frustrated by leaks of discontent and challenged Democrats who want another candidate to mount a battle at the party’s convention in August. The president said his rallies in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania over the past few days gave him confidence people want him to remain in the race.

“Any of these guys who don’t think I should run, run against me. Go ahead. Run for president. Challenge me at the convention,” Biden said.

The president also brushed aside concern from high-dollar donors, saying he’s focused on what rank-and-file Democrats and average voters believe. Biden pointed to grassroots fundraising numbers, suggesting that support could help sustain his campaign

“I don’t care what the millionaires think,” Biden said on MSNBC. “I want their support but that’s not the reason I’m running.”

Defiant President

The president chalked up the discord to a frenzy driven by the news media and wealthy supporters, saying they were ignoring a primary process that elected him the Democratic nominee.

Yet that defiant attitude is likely to only fuel concerns among his skeptics that Biden is not taking seriously the biggest political crisis that has faced his presidency. Calls for the president to end his campaign only grew after his ABC News interview on Friday sparked further worry that Biden had not grasped the peril facing his reelection bid, which also threatens to hinder Democrats’ efforts to win the House and Senate.

“The bottom line is, we’re not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere,” the president said. “I wanted to make sure that I was right that the average voter out there still wants Joe Biden. And I’m confident that they do.”

Biden and his team have said he plans to move forward with travel to Michigan, Texas and Nevada after hosting the NATO summit this week in Washington, while continuing to speak with Democratic officials.

In the aftermath of the debate, a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll showed Biden with his best showing yet in seven battleground states, but also trailing Trump by 2 percentage points across those states. Biden would still lose the Electoral College if the results held.

--With assistance from Hadriana Lowenkron, Stephanie Lai, Eric Martin, Akayla Gardner and Erik Wasson.

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