Top Democrats rage over Biden’s debate deflection: ‘Don’t know who’s making decisions’

Several top Democratic lawmakers expressed their anger over President Biden’s public denial and deflection about his rocky debate performance, according to a report Wednesday. 

Some Democratic members of Congress told Axios they want Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to privately encourage Biden to step aside. 

Multiple lawmakers reportedly told the outlet they are enraged Biden had slow-walked reaching out to Democratic leadership after the debate, much less the rank-and-file members in competitive races. Those members, who were not named in the report, said they fear the president could jeopardize Democrats’ chances of holding the Senate majority or regaining control of the House in November.   

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“I don’t know who’s making decisions,” one House Democrat reportedly told Axios. “Why the hell isn’t Biden on the phone with congressional leadership?… Everybody now thinks he could cost us the majority.”

The White House said Biden spoke with Jeffries on Tuesday. 

Lauren Hitt, a Biden campaign spokesperson, told Axios the president “has spoken personally with multiple elected officials on the Hill and across the battlegrounds since the debate.”

According to the report, lawmakers privately are growing fearful Biden is consulting only family members or people on his payroll in determining whether he should stay in the race. As the president’s inner circle slims, the lawmakers told Axios they’re certain Biden’s family doesn’t want him exposed to outside criticism, even if it comes from friends. 

At a campaign fundraiser in McLean, Virginia, Tuesday night, Biden blamed his poor debate performance on his foreign travel in June, which included a visit to France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, according to a print pool report with notes from a small group of journalists permitted to attend the private event. 

“I decided to travel around the world a couple of times,” Biden reportedly told a group of donors.

“I didn’t listen to my staff,” the president said, adding that he “came back and nearly fell asleep on stage.”

Biden rested for two days in Delaware and spent another six days preparing for the debate at Camp David in Maryland following his back-to-back trips to Europe, the New York Times reported. 

His debate preparation also never began before 11 a.m. and the president “was given time for an afternoon nap each day,” the newspaper said. 

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The White House claimed Biden “was working well before then, after exercising.”

Even Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a longtime Biden ally, admitted in an interview Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that it’s a “legitimate question” to express concern about Biden’s debate performance. 

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode, or is this a condition? And so when people ask that question, it’s completely legitimate – of both candidates,” Pelosi said. “Both candidates owe whatever test you want to put them to, in terms of their mental acuity and their health – both of them.” 

Biden also agreed to an interview Friday with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News. 

Axios reported that major Democratic donors are now planning to move large contributions instead to House and Senate candidates before what they see as a likely second term for former President Trump. 

Even Democrats who once accused Trump supporters of “gaslighting” by expressing concerns about 81-year-old Biden’s age and mental fitness are reportedly fed up with Biden, more so over his downplaying and deflection in the debate’s aftermath, rather than over the debate itself. 

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“Strangely, we are getting to the point where it may not have been the debate that did him in, but the aftermath of how they’ve handled it,” a top Democratic operative told Axios.