Biden makes appeals to donors as concerns persist over his presidential debate performance

ByJOSH BOAK and STEVE PEOPLES AP logo
Sunday, June 30, 2024
Biden attends fundraiser at NJ Gov. Murphy's home days after presidential debate
President Joe Biden attended a fundraiser at New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy's home on Saturday, days after his televised debate with Donald Trump.

RED BANK, New Jersey -- President Joe Biden looked to recapture his mojo and reassured donors at a Saturday fundraiser that he is fully up to the challenge of beating Donald Trump.

"I didn't have a great night, but I'm going to be fighting harder," Biden told attendees at the home of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. "Donald Trump is a genuine threat to the nation," he emphasized, saying that his predecessor would undermine democracy if returned to the White House and his economic ideas would worsen inflation.

The 81-year-old's troubling performance at the first presidential debate Thursday rattled many Democrats, who see Trump as a continuing danger after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Biden's meandering answers and struggles to respond to Trump prompted The New York Times editorial board to declare Friday that he should exit the race and that staying in would be a "reckless gamble."

A White House official said Saturday that Biden had preplanned time at Camp David on Sunday and Monday for a family photo, disputing the premise of an NBC News report suggesting that Biden would be discussing the future of his reelection campaign with his family. The official insisted on anonymity to discuss Biden family matters.

Biden was seen talking by phone with Jon Meacham, the historian, on his way Saturday night to Camp David.

Biden and his wife, Jill, earlier attended an afternoon campaign event in East Hampton, New York, the Long Island beach town where the real estate firm Zillow prices the median home at $1.9 million. Based on public records, the event that was closed to the news media was at the home of Avram Glazer, an owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.

The couple then went to a second event in East Hampton at the home of investor Barry Rosenstein, whose wife, Lizanne, said the president was "a role model for what it is to get knocked down over and over and over again and get up."

"We can waste time comparing debate nights," she continued. "But you know what? It's more meaningful to compare presidencies."

Addressing the gathering, Biden tore into Trump over his presidential record including his treatment of veterans and pointed to Trump's own poor performance on Thursday night.

Biden contended that the polling he's seen shows that Democrats moved up after the debate, saying of Trump: "The big takeaway was his lies."

In the aftermath of that debate, Biden flashed more vigor in speeches in North Carolina and New York on Friday, saying he believes with "all my heart and soul" that he can do the job of the presidency.

The Biden campaign said it has raised more than $27 million on Thursday and Friday, including $3 million at a New York City fundraiser focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

Jill Biden told supporters Friday that he said to her after the debate, "You know, Jill, I don't know what happened. I didn't feel that great." The first lady then said she responded to him, "Look, Joe, we are not going to let 90 minutes define the four years that you've been president."

The Democratic president still needs to allay the fears stirred by the debate as it seeped into the public conscience with clips and memes spreading on the internet and public pressure for him to bow out of the race.

Democratic donors across New York, Southern California and Silicon Valley privately expressed deep concerns about the viability of Biden's campaign in the wake of his debate performance.

In a series of text message chains and private conversations, they discussed the short list of possible replacements, a group that included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris.

But on Friday, there was no formal push to pressure Biden to step aside and some suspected there never would be given the logistical challenges associated with replacing the presumptive nominee just four months before Election Day.

Some donors noted they were going to pause their personal giving. They said receipts from Biden's weekend fundraiser would almost certainly be strong because the tickets were sold and paid for before the debate.