Biden campaign fails to quell mounting Dem frustration

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Democrats are growing increasingly frustrated by President Biden’s reelection campaign’s attempts at painting a rosy picture after his disastrous debate performance.

Some say the campaign is trying to convince Democrats to move on quickly and not worry about the debate, while others feel they are being “gaslit” by those trying to convince the party the president can rebound.

“I really do criticize the campaign for a dismissive attitude towards people who are raising questions for discussion. That’s just facing the reality that we’re in,” Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) told Semafor.

Former aides to President Obama in particular have piled on the criticism towards the Biden campaign’s response to concerned Democrats, calling it insulting that they would be dismissed.

“This is not the right approach, to kind of scold people and dismiss people… and to accuse people of not caring about beating Trump,” former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said of the former president and presumptive GOP nominee on MSNBC. “If they’re going to stick with this, they gotta wrap their arms around everybody and say, ‘Let’s do this together’ instead of making the enemy the media or people that they don’t like things that they say online.”

Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau also told The New York Times that the campaign had the wrong response to Thursday’s debate.

“Guess what — millions of Americans saw that,” Favreau said. “You can’t just tell people who are criticizing that they’re bed-wetters and crazy.”

After Biden’s sluggish demeanor and inability to finish his thoughts during the CNN debate against Trump, Democratic operatives, former aides and even some lawmakers began conversations over if it’s time for him to step aside.

While the campaign spent much of the days after the debate trying to calm the nerves of party leaders and donors, part of the clean-up, some Democrats describe, has been to dismiss the anxieties about Biden losing if he’s at the top of the ticket. The campaign sent out an email over the weekend, saying that “the bedwetting brigade is calling for Joe Biden to ‘drop out.’”

“You can’t say that the future of American democracy is at stake and then tell anyone concerned about the debate last night to stop bed-wetting or grow a spine. It’s f—- insulting to people who care deeply about the country and know how much is on the line,” said former Obama aide Tommy Vietor on social media platform X.

During a call with donors, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) didn’t take questions, so attendees couldn’t express their concerns. The DNC articulated a path “and said it’s going to be OK,” one party bundler said.

“It is kind of Orwellian, these claims that people are being told ‘Don’t look at what you saw, that’s not real.’ That’s what George Orwell said in ‘1984,’” the bundler added.

A DNC member from Colorado said he felt like there was gaslighting on the call, arguing that it didn’t address the debate issues and instead Democrats were expected to “just be cheerleaders” for Biden.

“There were a number of things that could have been said in addressing the situation. But we didn’t get that. We were being gaslit,” Joe Salazar, an elected DNC member from Colorado, told The Associated Press.

When asked about Salazar’s comment, the bundler who was on the call responded, “I think it’s fair.”

Democrats are feeling like the campaign and DNC aren’t laying out how Biden comes out on the other side of this situation, particularly as calls mount for him to drop out of the race. On Tuesday, Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett became the first congressional Democrat to call for Biden to get off the ticket.

“You don’t need to be a political expert or spend 30 years in Washington to know that, like, that didn’t go well. And people are going to want to know what the plan,” a former Clinton administration aide said. “And they haven’t answered it yet. That’s the thing, if the answer is ‘That was a bad night, he had a cold, don’t believe your lying eyes’ — Jesus.”

The White House made an effort on Tuesday not to dismiss questions from reporters during its first briefing since the debate, but also dodged questions over the president’s mental fitness.

“I see it as a legitimate question, I do and I understand, it is a fair question to ask. The president sees it as a legitimate question,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said while being peppered with questions. “We are acknowledging what people are seeing.”

Longtime Democratic operatives have been quick to hit Biden over his debate performance. James Carville, who was an adviser to former President Clinton, has said Biden should be replaced, and David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama, said that Trump would face “trouble” if Biden is replaced at the top of the ticket.

While some Democrats are defending Biden, including leadership like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), there are concerns about him at the top of the ticket outside of the political circles, too.

A new CNN poll found that 75 percent of voters think Democrats have a better shot without Biden.

“They’ve been telling everybody for two years, ‘Oh it’s all fine,’” a Democratic lobbyist and donor said. “And when someone like David Axelrod picks his head up and says well maybe he’d [be] too old, they freak out and attack him. Well, we all saw it.”

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