Pelosi attacks Trump and says he might have ‘dementia’ after Biden’s rocky debate

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went on the attack on Sunday with her fellow Democrats, coming to the defense of Joe Biden following his disastrous debate performance last week in Atlanta.

Biden, already facing serious concerns from voters about his age, appeared lost on stage at points during the debate on Thursday, even forgetting his subject mid-sentence. The president’s voice, affected by a cold, sounded raspy and hoarse.

Pelosi, responding to calls from some Democrats and newspaper editorial boards for Biden to step aside and polling showing that a clear majority of Americans believe that he does not have the mental faculties to be president, pivoted to attacking the Republican candidate.

“There are health care professionals who think that Trump has dementia,” she told CNN. “If we're just talking about mental acuity, let's be fair about it.”

“Not even that he lies; that he doesn’t know the truth,” the former House Democratic leader went on.

She also responded directly to the criticism that she and other Democrats were “enabling” the president as he fought a losing campaign, a criticism she dismissed outright: “We see Joe Biden up close. We know how attuned he is to the issues, how informed we is.”

“I debate with him on legislation. Not debate, discussion. And he’s right there.”

“It was a bad night. Let’s not...sugarcoat that. It was a bad night. It was a great presidency,” Pelosi then said. “And that’s what the American people have to choose.”

Polls have shown that the segment of voters who believe the president does not have the required mental fitness for the job has grown substantially, with a CBS poll finding only 27% of those polled believe Biden has the mental and cognitive health required to serve as president.

Joe Biden looks down during Thursday’s debate against Donald Trump in Atlanta, Georgia (AFP via Getty Images)
Joe Biden looks down during Thursday’s debate against Donald Trump in Atlanta, Georgia (AFP via Getty Images)

Other Democrats joined various news shows on Sunday to give reactions to the president’s performance. All uniformly agreed that Biden had not done well; only one, Jamie Raskin, was willing to acknowdledge that Democrats were having conversations about the path forward and whether Biden should remain on the ticket.

Most were refusing to break with the president, including senators from the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia.

“There was the same kind of a freakout after my debate, and in fact I might even say that I had a more difficult evening than the president did. And here I am right now, having this conversation,” John Fetterman told Fox News Sunday of the reaction to Biden’s debate.

James Clyburn, a top Biden ally in the Congressional Black Caucus, also echoed the argument that the president should remain in the race.

But behind the scenes, the party remains in various states of panic or, at a minimum, serious worry. Democratic sources who spoke to The Independent after the debate were certain that the president should make the hard choice.

“Horrible,” one Democratic strategist told The Independent. “Need to have [Kamala] Harris take over. Cleanest option.”

Polling currently shows the incumbent president trailing his 2020 opponent, Donald Trump, in several key battleground states. He retains a fundraising lead over Trump, but it has yet to bear fruit in the field. The president’s campaign says it saw another fundraising surge in their favor following the debate — by Sunday, the campaign said it had raised more than $33m.

“It’s a familiar story: Following Thursday night’s debate, the beltway class is counting Joe Biden out. The data in the battleground states, though, tells a different story,” campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dixon added in a memo to supporters this weekend.

“Our team knows a thing or two about putting our heads down and doing the work to win hard races,” she continued. “This will be a very close election. It was always going to be...That’s what our campaign has been planning for.”

Biden himself addressed the event at a campaign fundraiser on Saturday.

“I understand the concern about the debate. I get it. I didn’t have a great night,” said Biden at the event, attended by radio legend Howard Stern and others. “But here’s what I -- [what’s] not getting reported: Voters had a different reaction than the pundits. Since the debate, polls show a little movement, and we’ve moved us up, actually.”

“He -- and, by the way, the Times had their editorial,” the president continued. “Well, guess what? They also pointed out he lied 28 times in a matter of 90 minutes.”