News conference is another proving ground. Will Biden's tests ever end?


President Biden faces another test in what appears to be a continuing series of them Thursday evening as he holds a rare news conference amid concerns that the 81-year-old is not capable of winning reelection or governing for another four years.

Biden has held fewer news conferences on an annual average than any predecessor since President Reagan. Thursday’s engagement with reporters comes exactly two weeks since a fumbling debate with former President Trump created mass concern both inside and outside the Democratic Party.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Thursday provided some good news to Biden — a 46-46 tie with Trump, who has been building a lead in many other surveys at both the national level and in key battleground states. But the same poll found two-thirds of Americans — including 56% of Democrats — want him out of the race.

Peter Welch of Vermont became the first Democratic senator to publicly call for Biden to leave the race Wednesday night, joining a small group of House colleagues and the actor George Clooney, who made his call Wednesday just weeks after co-hosting a high-dollar Hollywood fundraiser for him.

“The stakes could not be higher,” Welch wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece. “We cannot unsee President Biden’s disastrous debate performance. We cannot ignore or dismiss the valid questions raised since that night.”

Biden has been trying to buy time since the debate performance, holding off more widespread calls from high-profile Democrats, including many lawmakers who have said privately that they hoped he would withdraw on his own. He has not satisfied many supporters who have called for a blitz of unscripted events and has largely stuck to public speeches with teleprompters, including events with foreign leaders in Washington this week as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization conference.

His unscripted interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last week garnered mixed reviews, but the anchor was later caught on camera stating that he did not believe Biden could serve another four years. Biden’s defiant phone call to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday — his favorite cable news show — appeared to hold off a wave of congressional defections but did not assuage concerns. He has another network interview planned for Monday with NBC’s Lester Holt.

Biden is hoping to keep detractors at bay for as long as possible, making it harder for the party to replace him. But even if he does not commit errors, he is unlikely to persuade party insiders and regular voters who believe the damage has already been done, especially if he makes another public stumble before November’s election.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) suggested as much Wednesday in her own appearance on “Morning Joe,” ignoring Biden’s insistence that he had already decided to stay in the race.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” she said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”



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