Biden Defies Calls To Exit The Presidential Race | Crooked Media
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July 07, 2024
What A Day
Biden Defies Calls To Exit The Presidential Race

In This Episode

  • President Joe Biden spent the long July Fourth weekend trying to save his re-election bid after his disastrous debate performance more than a week ago. On the campaign trail and in his first post-debate interview with ABC, the president was adamant that he would not leave the race. But Biden’s publicity blitz did little to assure panicked Democrats in Washington, with some top lawmakers in both the House and Senate privately voicing hopes that the president will drop out. Alex Thompson, national political reporter for Axios, gets us up to speed on what happened over the long holiday break.
  • And in headlines: French voters successfully rallied to stop the formation of the country’s first far-right government since World War II, Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to make landfall in southern Texas today, and four crew members inside NASA’s first Mars simulation have emerged from their year-long isolation.


Show Notes:





Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, July 8th, I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day, the pod that wants you to pucker up for pedaling. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Unlike the tour de France, which fined a racer for stopping during a stage last Friday to kiss his wife on the sidelines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Maybe they fined him because it wasn’t a French kiss. Did we ever think of that? [laughter]


Tre’vell Anderson: Maybe. Who knows? [music break] On today’s show, voters in both France and the UK told the right to kiss off. Plus, The Atlantic’s first major storm of the season, Beryl is expected to hit Texas today. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, President Joe Biden spent the long 4th of July weekend trying to save his reelection bid after his disastrous debate performance more than a week ago. He spent a few days on the campaign trail trying to reassure both voters and lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he’s up for the job, and he was adamant about one thing. He is not planning to leave this race. He said so on Friday, during his first post-debate interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. Take a listen. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] I mean, if the Lord Almighty came down and said, Joe, get out of the race, I’d get out of the race. The Lord Almighty’s not coming down. 


Priyanka Aribindi: He also struck a defiant tone during multiple campaign rallies in two key swing states, in Wisconsin on Friday and in Pennsylvania over the weekend. Speaking at his Wisconsin rally, Biden dismissed growing calls from lawmakers in his own party to leave the race. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] So let me ask you, what do you think? You think I’m too old to restore Roe v Wade to the law of the land? [crowd shouting no] You think I’m too old to ban assault weapons again? [crowd shouting no] Protect Social Security and Medicare? [crowd shouting no] To get child care, elder care for working families who need the nation? [crowd shouting no] To make billionaires finally start to pay something beyond 8.2% of the tax rate? [crowd shouting no] Let me ask, you think I’m too old to beat Donald Trump? [crowd shouting no]


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. I hear a little something something there. Priyanka. 


Priyanka Aribindi: He’s still got a lot of fight left in him. I’m quoting fight song. That’s where we are at in this stage. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Of the election cycle. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. [exasperated sound from Priyanka] Now, you mentioned growing calls from sitting Democratic lawmakers for Biden to leave the race. We talked last week about how Lloyd Doggett from Texas was the first to do so. Who else has joined since? 


Priyanka Aribindi: On Saturday, Minnesota Congresswoman Angie Craig became the fifth House lawmaker to say that Biden should leave the race. And on Sunday, California Representative Adam Schiff, who is currently running for a seat in the Senate, told NBC’s Kristen Welker that Vice President Kamala Harris could, quote, “overwhelmingly beat Donald Trump,” but suggested that he was not convinced that Biden could. 


[clip of Adam Schiff] I think uh the vice president would be a phenomenal president. I think she has the experience, the judgment, the leadership ability to be an extraordinary president. 


[clip of NBC’s Kristen Welker] Could she went overwhelmingly Congressman? 


[clip of Adam Schiff] I think she very well could win overwhelmingly. But before we get into a decision about who else it should be, the president needs to make the decision, whether it’s him. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Meanwhile, top House Democrats met late on Sunday to discuss Biden’s position at the top of the ticket. At least four of them reportedly said that Biden should leave the race, including New Jersey’s Jerry Nadler. And multiple outlets reported this weekend that Senator Mark Warner of Virginia is privately trying to organize a group of senators to ask Biden to leave the race. So there is obviously a lot going on in the background and among voters who are taking all of this in. To get a better sense of it all, I spoke with Alex Thompson. He is a national political reporter for Axios. And I started by asking him whether Biden’s weekend offensive has done enough to calm the nerves of worried Democratic lawmakers. 


Alex Thompson: So it depends who you’re talking about. If you’re talking about Democrats in Washington, absolutely not. If you’re talking about high information voters that are probably listening to this podcast, absolutely not. If you’re talking about regular voters, we honestly just don’t know yet. There is an argument out there that among most voters, the age stuff was not fully baked in, at least mostly baked in. And so maybe Beltway Democrats are only just catching up to where the public was. But we just don’t know. But even so, Joe Biden clearly feels that he knows and has made it very, very clear, unambiguously clear that he has no intentions of getting out, at least for now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You tweeted on Sunday that you expect a lot of Democrats to call for Biden to step aside this week. My question is why this week? What didn’t they see in the days since the debate that could have convinced them otherwise? Or are they just kind of following the few brave people who stepped out and said it first? 


Alex Thompson: So I’d say two things. One is just like a simple logistical thing, which is that Congress was on vacation over July fourth week. Um. The other thing I would say is a lot of Democrats were watching and waiting to see what the Biden campaign would do, and also how Biden would do in the interview with George Stephanopoulos, and also how the polling would look. And I think, uh the reaction from most Democrats that I’ve talked to has been they are unsatisfied with how things have gone so far. The fact that you had, you know, the debate was a Thursday night, the fact that Joe Biden did not sit for a televised interview until the next Friday. So eight days later and then only sat for 22 minutes, still had some trouble stringing some thoughts together, and then also sort of appeared in the eyes of many Democrats, to be a bit out of touch with where the political map is at this moment in terms of, you know, he was sort of denying the polling, that he was behind. I think you combine all that together. I think it’s very likely that more Democrats, you saw this yesterday where Hakeem Jeffries, you know, called a bunch of Democratic lawmakers. A few of them came out and said explicitly that they thought Joe Biden should step aside. Now, that’s not everybody. But this is going to snowball over this week as Congress is back in session. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. I mean, it’ll ultimately be his own decision whether or not to go, but at what point does the political pressure on him become too much? 


Alex Thompson: It’s so hard to know, because Joe Biden deeply, deeply believes and the people very close to him believe that he is the most electable person against Donald Trump. And if you believe that, then just because some senators tell you they want you to get out of the race, if your conviction is that I’m the best chance to defeat Donald Trump, why would you leave the race? That’s the really interesting question to see what happens over the next week or two. Is there any way that Joe Biden can be convinced that he is no longer electable against Donald Trump? I think that is the only way to convince him to drop out. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What are people within the campaign, within the White House saying privately about the prospects of Biden staying in the race? 


Alex Thompson: So there’s a deep divide here. So you have the Biden loyalists that basically very much believe you can call it the Biden mythology or, you know, it’s mythology, but it’s very much based in reality, too, which is that Biden, you know, has beat off his doubters so many times in his entire life. Right. That is key to sort of how he sees himself. It’s key to how many of the people around him also see him and see themselves in the entire apparatus, the entire campaign. There are people that are just as dug in as Joe Biden right now and are resolute. That being said, there are a lot of other people who I’ve also talked to that feel a combination of sadness and anger, and they sort of go back and forth. The sadness is that they feel that, first of all, they may lose to Trump now, and they feel sadness that now, like any important policy work, is going to be completely clouded out. And then they feel angry because some people feel that White House senior leadership was not candid about Joe Biden’s limitations. 


Priyanka Aribindi: There was a new Bloomberg Morning Consult poll that came out Saturday, had some mixed results for Biden, and showed that he gained some ground among voters in Michigan and Wisconsin after the debate, but that among all swing state voters, a majority of them thought that Biden should leave the race. What do we know about how voters are feeling? I know not so much. But what do we know as of now about how they’re feeling about Biden? 


Alex Thompson: If you check the national polls though, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and I belive CNN all showed that Biden basically lost a few points. You know, one to four points, you know, around there that range and that the concerns about his age already significant, increased slightly too. That being said, you know, he’s still three to six points down. That is not an insurmountable deficit. Now, the Bloomberg poll showed him actually gaining a bit in the swing states. Now there are a few ways you could potentially reconcile those things. One is that the Biden campaign has been spending much, much more money than the Trump campaign the last three months in those swing states. So maybe that’s helped their polling or at least helped them shore up the polling. Possible the poll is an outlier, also possible that voters actually mostly have baked in the age thing and actually aren’t reacting in the same way that the Twitterati is. So it’s going to be fascinating to see this next round of polls. I would say if you’re a Democrat, that’s very, very worried, there are two questions about the debate that the debate raised. One is can Joe Biden beat Donald Trump? And everything I’ve seen and heard from Democrats like the answer is 100% yes. Like Joe Biden can still beat Donald Trump, in part because there are tens of millions of people in this country that hate Trump so much that they would still vote for Joe Biden at 110, so Joe Biden can still win. But the other question is, does the debate make you wonder if he’s mentally capable of serving another four and a half years? And that’s sort of a deeper question that goes beyond the election. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What or who kind of ultimately decides here whether Biden survives this political fight? 


Alex Thompson: Well, the short answer is basically it’s a one person decision here, and that’s Joe Biden. If Joe Biden wants to be the nominee, he will be the nominee. And there is really a a fear among some Democrats that if the more vocally they try to push him out of the race, the more he will dig in and try to stay because Joe Biden is a proud person. Joe Biden has had a chip on his shoulder the entire life about feeling that elites have never take him seriously enough. This is why I think you see every single Democratic lawmaker that’s called for him to drop out of the race. You notice that the first half of the statement is all about how great Joe Biden is and how amazing and how, you know, historic his legacy is and all these things, uh which all may be true, but it’s an interesting tactic. They’re not trying to shame him out of the race. They’re trying to coax him out of the race. 


Priyanka Aribindi: How, if at all, can Biden put this past him and make the campaign about the issues again in the next month, you know, ahead of the convention? Is he able to kind of change this conversation do you think? 


Alex Thompson: He’s going to have to be much more accessible than he has been the last three and a half years. The fact is that this is a president that’s given less press conferences, less serious interviews than any president in several decades. He has still not sat down with The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, or with Reuters, not to mention upstarts like us at Axios or Politico. There’s a difference between a sustained one on one, or even a few on one conversation where you drill down on details. He has not been doing many of those, and so he has a credibility problem. He and his team both have a credibility problem. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Alex Thompson, national political reporter for Axios. All of this is moving very quickly and will continue to as Congress returns to work this week. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on this story. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you so much for that, Priyanka. That’s the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment, but if you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Share it with your friends. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: French voters successfully rallied to stop the formation of the first far right government there since World War Two. In a surprise upset, a left wing coalition called the New Popular Front won the largest bloc of seats in the French National Assembly after the second round of legislative elections on Sunday. The far right National Rally were projected to win the most seats after dominating the first round of elections last week, but eventually came in third place behind President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist coalition. The results reflected a coordinated and ultimately successful strategy between the leftist and centrist coalitions to pull some candidates from Three-Way races that could have resulted in a far right win. Still, no single party won a majority of the seats, which could leave France politically gridlocked. Meanwhile, across the English Channel, Keir Starmer became the new British prime minister on Friday after his Labor Party trounced the Conservative Party in Thursday’s elections. The results ended 14 years of Conservative Party rule. Hopefully the United States can make it a three peat. You know what I’m saying, Priyanka? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Please send some of that good luck, good juju, whatever it was our way because we need it. [laugh] Tropical Storm Beryl is expected to make landfall in southern Texas today, making it the first hurricane to hit the U.S. this year. The storm began as a category five hurricane and killed at least 11 people across the Caribbean over the weekend. As Beryl moved up through the Gulf of Mexico, it weakened to a tropical storm. But U.S. officials say that they’re concerned that the storm could pick up strength again, and warned residents in Texas to expect power outages from the violent winds. Multiple school districts across Houston said that they’ll be closed today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, a record breaking heat wave has scorched the western U.S. the last several days. Palm Springs, the popular California desert destination, saw a record high temperature of 124 degrees on Friday, and the mountainous city of Ashland, Oregon, hit 111 degrees on Saturday. Triple digit temperatures are expected to continue throughout this week, so we will say it again please, please stay cool out there, preferably in there inside somewhere. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Protesters took to the streets across Israel yesterday calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down. Here’s some of the demonstrations, as reported by the AP. [clip of people shouting] Protesters also called for an immediate ceasefire proposal to ensure the release of the more than 100 remaining hostages held by Hamas. Sunday marked the nine month anniversary of Hamas’s initial attack. The protesters blocked highways, rallied in front of government officials homes and released 1500 balloons into the sky. Those were assembled to commemorate the Israelis who were killed or have been held hostage since October 7th. And while a cease fire is still far off, Hamas gave approval to the U.S. proposed phased deal over the weekend after it dropped one of their initial demands that Israel permanently end its fighting. Netanyahu has insisted that any ceasefire proposal must allow Israeli forces to continue operations in Gaza until the military missions are complete. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Finally, I am one step closer to being able to leave this planet. On Saturday, the four crew members inside NASA’s first Mars simulation came out of isolation. It was part of a massive project to research what it will take to put humans on the planet. The crew spent over a year inside of a 1700 square foot facility in Houston called Mars Dune Alpha. Here is science officer Anca Selariu. 


[clip of Anca Selariu] I am astonished that I got to live at Mars Dune Alpha, and that I got to contribute to the one thing that is dearest to my heart, bringing life to Mars. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Throughout the past year, they simulated spacewalks and figured out how to grow and reuse their own resources. They also learned how to live in isolation and what it would be like to have limited communication abilities. Which is kind of shocking that they didn’t learn that all in 2020 like the rest of us, but it’s fine. They built a Mars simulator to figure it out. As for what’s next, NASA is planning two more simulations to continue the research on how to make a habitat on Mars. I’m thinking of who I would send to Mars. The list is kind of long. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I don’t like this. We’re barely good stewards of this rock that we’re on. And now they want to go take over another one?


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, but counterpoint. What if all the annoying people you’ve ever met move to Mars? 


Tre’vell Anderson: You know what? Okay. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You sold me. Let’s do it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. Just that easy. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. Maybe that’s what they’re doing here. And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure to subscribe. Leave a review, Vive La France and tell your friends to listen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just directions on how to vote by mail from Mars, like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[spoken together] And kiss me I’m biking. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I haven’t been biking in a long time. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I’m not biking, but you can kiss me too. It’s fine. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m probably not biking. If I’m biking, the bike is probably stationary. But you know. I could use a kiss. Why not? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Why not? [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.