Biden to meet with Democratic governors in wake of debate debacle, calls to leave '24 race (2024)

WASHINGTON — Democratic governors will meet Wednesday with President Joe Biden nearly a week after his concern-raising debate performance against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Some governors will attend the session with the president in person, others virtually.

The meeting, confirmed by the White House, follows a call that a group of concerned Democratic governors held amongst themselves Monday evening amid fallout from Biden's disastrous debate performance. During the call, the governors discussed seeking a conversation directly with Biden.

Three Democratic sources confirmed the Monday call and said the Biden campaign knew in advance the phone meeting was happening. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, organized the conversation, two sources confirmed.

"When you come off a bad debate you need to remind people why you're the right guy to elect," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in an interview on CNN Tuesday night. Pritzker was on the conference call Monday and is among the governors meeting with Biden Wednesday.

"Joe Biden is going to be our nominee unless he decides otherwise," Pritzker said. "Unless he makes a different decision, I'm on board and I'm supporting the president. He's been good for the country."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will also meet with congressional leaders this week and conduct a one-on-one interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

"We want to turn the page on this, and we want to turn the page for the American people," Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing Tuesday.

She declined to discuss what Biden will tell the governors on Wednesday. "I don't want to discuss a private discussion. He'll have these conversations. I think they'll be important. They'll hear from him. You'll hear from them."

Biden to meet with Democratic governors in wake of debate debacle, calls to leave '24 race (1)

Monday's call included governors only, with no members of staff or other organizers, a Democratic official confirmed. Among other governors on the call, USA TODAY confirmed, were Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Arizona's Katie Hobbs.

State leaders on the phone brought up concerns about Biden's candidacy, as well as about raising those concerns publicly, and there was a strong sentiment they needed to hear directly from Biden, CNN reported.

Several Democratic governors, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, are among those speculated as possible replacement candidates for Biden if he were to bow out of the race. Biden has given no indication publicly he intends to withdraw − and Whitmer, Newsom and other Democratic governors have rallied around Biden publicly and sought to disavow themselves from any recruitment efforts.

Whitmer, Hobbs, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro are among Biden's most important surrogates in key battleground states.

Whitmer relayed to the Biden campaign last Friday that she rejects any effort to force Biden out and be drafted to run in his place, according to a report from Politico. Whitmer released a video on social media Monday reinforcing her support for Biden, saying "We have a president who wakes up every single day and thinks about how he can make people's lives better."

Beshear, another Democrat whose name has also been floated, on Monday called the attention "flattering" but said he supports Biden as long as he's running.

"The debate performance was rough. It was a very bad night for the president. But he is still the candidate," Beshear told reporters. "Only he can make decisions about his future candidacy. So as long as he continues to be in the race, I support him.”

Jean-Pierre rejected any suggestion that Biden had an episode during the debate or is suffering from a medical condition.

"It was a bad night," she said repeatedly as she was pressed by reporters. "He was under the weather, obviously. We all have bad moments. It is not unusual."

A spokesman for Murphy of New Jersey confirmed his participation in Monday's call with governors, which he characterized as routine and pointed to comments Murphy made on Saturday while hosting a fundraiser for Biden. "You're on fire and we are all with you 1,000%," Murphy told the president, calling him a "comeback kid."

In Kansas, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly declined to talk about Biden's fitness to be president and the reported call. Following a Tuesday morning event on tax cuts, she walked out of the room as reporters asked questions, saying only that her aide had already ended the gaggle. Her office later referred to a previous statement.

"While I have never been shy about standing up to Washington when it’s wrong for Kansas, the President’s record of delivering bipartisan results speaks for itself," Kelly said in a statement Friday, the day after the debate. "His efforts will continue to allow Kansas to recruit new manufacturing businesses, rebuild our infrastructure, and stand up for our fundamental freedoms. He is a decent man of strong character. I will support him in November."

Biden to meet with Democratic governors in wake of debate debacle, calls to leave '24 race (2024)

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