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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Biden is privately torn between defiance and acceptance amidst mounting calls for him to step aside

In recent discussions with aides, family members, and external allies, President Joe Biden has oscillated between resignation and resolve in response to the seismic shift in his political support within his own party, as reported by four individuals familiar with the matter.

At times, Biden has acknowledged the mounting criticism following his recent debate performance may become insurmountable. Yet, in other conversations, he has vehemently dismissed any notion of abandoning his re-election bid, according to these sources. Within his family circle, especially involving First Lady Jill Biden and their son Hunter Biden, there is a growing push for strategic changes within his campaign team to revitalize his struggling candidacy, sources close to the matter disclosed.

Valerie Owens, the president’s sister, is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. for the July 4 holiday, during which she plans to discuss campaign matters directly with Biden, as per an individual briefed on her plans.

In private, Biden’s family members have pointed fingers at some longtime aides for the fallout from his disastrous debate performance. There have been deliberations about the potential dismissal of senior White House adviser Anita Dunn and even her husband, Bob Bauer, who serves as Biden’s personal attorney, sources familiar with the discussions revealed.

Dunn and Bauer, both early supporters of Biden’s presidential ambitions, played pivotal roles in preparing him for the recent debate, with Dunn acting as a moderator and Bauer portraying former President Donald Trump in practice sessions. Over the past year, their handling of Hunter Biden’s legal issues has been a sore point for certain Biden family members.

However, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients has categorically denied any discussions about removing Dunn or Bauer, affirming the president and first lady’s unwavering confidence in their team.

Despite external pressures and internal critiques, Biden has reportedly not blamed his debate preparation team for his performance, a sentiment reiterated by a Biden aide.

Sources close to the president’s family assert they have been among the most vocal opponents of suggestions that Biden withdraw from the race. Biden himself has publicly reaffirmed his commitment to continue, though he is grappling with internal doubts exacerbated by declining support and post-debate analyses indicating significant damage to his re-election prospects.

According to one source familiar with the discussions, Biden acknowledges the dwindling options ahead but is under considerable familial pressure to persevere. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates reinforced Biden’s stance, stating unequivocally that the president remains steadfast in his candidacy.

In response to escalating calls for him to step aside, Biden has recently engaged with Democratic Party leaders. However, a phone call from former President Barack Obama advising him on the matter reportedly did not sit well with Biden, who has lingering resentment toward Obama’s counsel against running for the presidency in 2016.

Obama, according to sources, has questioned his influence over Biden’s personal decisions amid mounting pressure for the president to reconsider his candidacy. Bates reiterated Biden’s appreciation for Obama’s support but did not elaborate further on their private discussions.

Despite initial post-debate buoyancy following a well-received rally in North Carolina, Biden’s mood has reportedly darkened as the full impact of his debate performance settled in. Sources indicated Biden felt deeply wounded and embarrassed by the widely panned debate showing.

The central issue now extends beyond political viability to Biden’s personal resilience, as he contemplates overcoming the humiliation of the debate to regain the confidence for a vigorous campaign.

Throughout his life, Biden has demonstrated a pattern of resilience in the face of adversity, a trait underscored by Bates in a public statement. Rep. Don Beyer, who recently hosted Biden at a fundraiser, echoed this sentiment, describing the president as resolute and undeterred despite the recent challenges.

Hunter Biden, according to NBC News reports, is fervently advocating for his father to remain in the race, reflecting a broader sentiment within the Biden family that withdrawal is not an option. Jill Biden, during a gathering at Camp David, reportedly emphasized the family’s collective resolve amid ongoing hardships, including public scrutiny and legal troubles involving Hunter Biden.

While campaigning in Pennsylvania, Jill Biden appeared upbeat and engaged, according to Rep. Nanette Barragan, who noted no outward signs of internal turmoil despite the recent debate fallout.

In the aftermath of the debate, Biden family members sought answers from senior staff at Camp David regarding the preparation process, questioning decisions that may have contributed to the subpar performance. Among their concerns was the role of Bauer in mock debate sessions, a decision opposed by outside suggestions, as detailed by sources close to Ron Klain, Biden’s former chief of staff.

Currently, family discussions are centered on rebuilding Biden’s political standing and maintaining momentum for his campaign. Meanwhile, Biden’s closest advisers are intensifying efforts to secure support from key Democratic allies amid mounting challenges.

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