Biden tells ally he's weighing whether to stay in the race: Reports

U.S. President Joe Biden reacts, as he meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani (not pictured) in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 15, 2024. 

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

President Joe Biden has told a key ally that his reelection campaign against former President Donald Trump may not be recoverable if he cannot quell concerns about his fitness for office in the coming days, The New York Times first reported Wednesday.

The unnamed ally said that Biden is still invested in the reelection fight, but he is aware that his upcoming public appearances must go well after his devastating presidential debate with Trump last week.

“He knows if he has two more events like that, we’re in a different place” by the end of the weekend, said the ally, according to the Times.

The Times also quoted one of Biden’s top advisors, also anonymously, who said the president is “well aware of the political challenge he faces.”

Later on Wednesday, CNN reported that Biden had acknowledged his perilous position in a similar conversation with an ally. “He sees the moment. He’s clear-eyed,” that ally told CNN.

It was unclear if the two outlets were reporting the same conversation. CNBC and NBC News have not independently confirmed the reports.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates vehemently denied the Times’ report.

“That claim is absolutely false,” Bates wrote on X. “If the New York Times had provided us with more than 7 minutes to comment we would have told them so.”

The reported conversations came amid ongoing fallout from Biden’s debate performance. The 81-year-old incumbent struggled to articulate his positions and push back against his 78-year-old rival’s claims.

Biden’s lack of energy and focus in the debate have stoked widespread panic among his allies and donors, a growing number of whom are now mulling whether Biden should withdraw from the race.

Much of this anxious discussion has swirled around whether Vice President Kamala Harris could step into Biden’s place as the party’s choice.

CNBC reported Wednesday that a group of donors to Harris’ previous political campaigns — for president in 2020, Senate in 2016 and state office before that — have begun privately strategizing about how best to position the vice president to swiftly tamp down any competition for the nomination, should Biden drop out.

Though few Democrats have publicly urged Biden to step aside, the president’s top political allies in Congress, including Reps. Nancy Pelosi and James Clyburn, have declined to defend Biden’s performance, and instead said the debate raised legitimate questions about the president’s fitness for four more years in office.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Democratic governors late Wednesday at the White House, to reassure them about his ability to continue as the party’s presumptive nominee.

The president is also scheduled to sit down for a one-on-one interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Friday. The interview will not be broadcast live, however. The first clip will air Friday, with an extended interview set to Sunday, ABC announced.

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