Joe Biden’s Own Inner Circle Is Plotting to Get Him to Quit

Leah Millis
Leah Millis

Longtime political adviser and former Biden White House chief of staff Ron Klain told the Daily Beast Thursday he has “no concerns” about the president’s mental fitness or ability to serve as the adviser pushed back against reports that aides want Biden to drop out.

The walls were closing in on President Joe Biden Thursday as even longtime aides and campaign advisers work out how to persuade him to drop his struggling bid for a second term in the White House.

“He needs to drop out,” one Biden campaign official told NBC News. “He will never recover from this.”

A small cadre of Biden White House and campaign advisors are mulling how to approach the president and convince him that only another candidate, namely Vice President Kamala Harris, can beat Donald Trump, according to The New York Times. The conversations with the president would have to be handled delicately and “orderly and not devolve into chaos in the Democratic Party,” The New York Times wrote.

Both the White House and the Biden campaign denied the report in the Times. “Unequivocally, this is not true,” Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman told the newspaper. “President Biden’s team is strongly behind him.” Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo, said “Patently false. This team stands with the president.”

It reported that the Biden campaign has conducted its own internal polling of a Harris–Trump match-up, underlining the seriousness with which it takes the possibility of Biden dropping out.

Kamala Harris walking down a stairway from a plane dressed in gray

The move to convince Biden comes as the campaign polls how Kamala Harris would fair in a head-to-head match-up with Donald Trump.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The polling was revealed at the same time as a memo from campaign chair, Jen O’Malley Dillon, acknowledged sinking support for Biden but sought to frame it as minor. “The movement we have seen, while real, is not a sea-change in the state of the race,” the memo says.

However, Klain, Biden's long-standing adviser who also served as the president's White House chief of staff, told the Daily Beast he does not agree with the assessment of others who may think Biden is not cognitively or physically up to the task of successfully defeating Trump. “It takes the right kind of opponent to beat Donald Trump and that person is Joe Biden,” Klain said, noting that Biden handily defeated Trump in 2020.

Asked whether he believes Biden is mentally fit to serve for four more years, Klain said, “I have no concerns about his cognitive acuity or his ability to serve.”

The new reports and the pushback by Klain underscore how increasingly divided the Democratic Party is in the wake of Biden’s dismal debate performance, his less-than-mediocre interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, and a chorus of calls growing louder from donors, other Democratic operatives — including David Axelrod and Hillary Rosen — and a handful of members of Congress.

But NBC News cited three sources close to Biden’s re-election campaign who reportedly cited signs of the president’s cognitive decline and a decline in fundraising, as most Democrats think Biden should drop out and allow another candidate to run against Trump, polls show.

“The question for me, and a lot of us, is: Who is the best person to beat Donald Trump?” a Biden campaign insider told NBC. “There are a lot of us that are true blue that are questioning our initial thoughts on that.”

The NBC and New York Times stories, published almost simultaneously, suggest a fast-moving erosion of support for the president even before a crucial press conference later Thursday at the end of a summit of NATO leaders in Washington D.C.

The late-afternoon question-and-answer session, referred to by the White House as a “big-boy press conference,” was set to be watched by key Democrats who have been on a roller-coaster since Biden debated Trump. Earlier this week his campaign seemed to have quelled the doubters with an aggressive fight-back but starting on Tuesday night, an onslaught of public worrying turned into calls for him to go, including from fundraiser and Biden friend George Clooney, who used a New York Times op-ed Wednesday to tell him to quit to “save democracy.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.