Dems Change Their Tune About Biden For President | Crooked Media
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July 02, 2024
What A Day
Dems Change Their Tune About Biden For President

In This Episode

  • We may be starting to see a seismic shift in how the Democratic Party publicly talks about whether President Joe Biden should remain the party’s presumptive nominee for president. On Tuesday, Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett became the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to call for Biden to leave the race after his devastating debate performance last week. Longtime Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley and Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Peter Welch of Vermont were also among those voicing harsh criticism of the president and his campaign. Most notably, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn said he would support Vice President Kamala Harris if Biden dropped out of the race. Liz Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic, explains how the stakes of the race have changed in recent days.
  • And in headlines: New York Justice Juan Merchan has delayed former President Donald Trump’s sentencing until September in the wake of the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani lost his license to practice law in the state, and President Biden proposed a new rule on Tuesday to protect around 35 million people from excessive heat in their workplaces.


Show Notes:




Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, July 3rd. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day. The show that loves dogs, unlike admitted dog killer South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem and third party presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this man was photographed posing with what appears to be a barbecued dog? 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s so sad yes, ugh. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s sad. It’s disgusting. There are people out there who want to vote for this man. He’s gonna eat your dog. Don’t do that. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, the sentencing hearing and former president and convicted felon Donald Trump’s hush money case is delayed. Plus, Rudy Giuliani is disbarred in New York. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, we may be starting to see a seismic shift in how the Democratic Party is talking about President Joe Biden and whether he should remain the party’s presumptive nominee for president. On Tuesday, Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett became the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to call for President Joe Biden to leave the presidential race after his devastating debate performance last week. Doggett said in a statement, quote, “recognizing that unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself. I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so.” Longtime Illinois Congressman Mike Quigly told CNN that he fears Biden could be a drag on down ballot candidates. 


[clip of Congressman Mike Quigly] His decision not only impacts who’s going to serve in the White House the next four years, but who’s going to serve in the Senate, who’s going to serve in the House, and it will have implications for decades to come. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And in an interview with the online publication Semafor, Vermont Senator Peter Welch said it was, quote, “inappropriate for the Biden campaign to dismiss concerns about Biden’s age.” Clearly, a lot of conversations about this happening over the past few days. 


Juanita Tolliver: What about House leadership? Are any top Democrats changing their positions from this weekend, which was full throated support for Biden or silence? 


Priyanka Aribindi: So far, no one in leadership is calling for him to drop out, but we are starting to see them open the door to the possibility that Biden may not ultimately become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. Speaking to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC on Tuesday, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged divisions among big party donors over whether Biden should stay in the race. 


[clip of Nancy Pelosi] It’s split. Some are like, well, how can we subject the process to what might be possible? And others are Joe’s our guy. We love him. We trust him. He has vision, knowledge, judgment, integrity. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Pelosi went on to suggest that Biden do a few sit down interviews with serious journalists. The president is actually scheduled to speak with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday. Portions of that interview will start airing on Friday night. The full interview will be available on Sunday morning. I know a lot of people, especially people listening to this, will be very interested to see that. Later on, Andrea Mitchell spoke with South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, who was instrumental in getting Black voters to support Biden back in 2020, helping him win the state’s Democratic primary. He is also the co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign. Clyburn told Mitchell that he would back Vice President Kamala Harris if Biden were to drop out. 


[clip of Jim Clyburn] This party should not in any way do anything to work around Miss Harris. We should do everything we can to bolster her, whether she is second place or at the top of the ticket. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And interestingly, Mitchell asked both of them if they had personally heard from Biden since the debate happened. Both said no, they had not. 


Juanita Tolliver: The stakes of the race have dramatically shifted in the last few days, not just because of the debate, but also because of the flurry of awful Supreme Court decisions that came out Friday and Monday, decisions that will severely limit the government’s ability to regulate industry. That will upend cases against January 6th rioters. And that grant Trump broad immunity from prosecution for his role in the insurrection. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So much has happened. And to get a deeper understanding of just how much the race has shifted I spoke earlier with Liz Bruenig. She is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She used to be an opinion columnist at the New York Times and the Washington Post. Here is our conversation. In your column after the debate  you wrote that only one message came across as true on stage, wrote, quote, “our nation is shambling along the road to hell, and there doesn’t appear to be an off ramp.” We’re starting now to see Democrats breaking with Biden, the first sitting Democrat representative, Lloyd Doggett from Texas, saying that the president should step aside. More of them have been voicing skepticism about whether or not he’s up to this campaign. Is that the off ramp that you were referencing, or at this point, is that just wishful thinking? 


Liz Bruenig: It’s a good idea. The people who are suggesting Biden should step aside seem right. The thing that worries me is, even if the Democrats were to replace Biden right now, Trump has had a lot of time to campaign and comes back to the race being a former president. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Liz Bruenig: I think it’s going to be hard for Democrats to make up that ground, even if they replace Biden with somebody right now. 


Priyanka Aribindi: At this point. Which do you think is riskier? Is it replacing Biden on the ticket or is it keeping him as the nominee? 


Liz Bruenig: I don’t know. I think it’s really hard to figure out which option actually puts Democrats in a better position to win the election. If I were seniors in the party trying to make a decision about this, I think I would replace Biden. Just so voters feel like their voices are being heard. You know, polls show after the debate, Biden lost a significant number of people who beforehand said that they were going to be Biden voters. I think before that, Trump and Biden were neck and neck. And after Biden dropped pretty far behind. So I think it’s important for the party to recognize what people are saying and what their feelings are. But I don’t know if that’s going to get them any closer to winning the election. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What do you make at this point of the way that the Biden campaign has responded to the president’s debate performance so far? They’ve done everything from blaming the debate preppers. They said the president had a cold. They’ve accused the media of overreacting to this. Is that just them doing their job, trying to protect him, avoiding further damage to the campaign, or are they refusing to face the reality of what we all saw? 


Liz Bruenig: It is a campaign’s job to try to keep the candidate elevated and to pursue victory for them. So in that case, you can certainly understand why the Biden campaign feels like they need to make excuses for and explain away his debate performance. Right. Because it looks like it’s going to be a significant hindrance. It’s going to be a lot of material for Trump attack ads, and I think it’s going to be fairly impossible to escape some clips from that debate going further into the campaign. But I think they’re being unrealistic and they’re they’re not listening to what polling suggests about how this debate was received. And I don’t think people are necessarily going to be persuaded. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I mean, speaking of the polling that we’ve seen, a new Morning Consult poll shows that a plurality of Democrats say that Biden should be replaced. A new poll out of New Hampshire shows Trump leading there after Biden’s poor debate performance. Puck news is reporting that a confidential polling memo shows Biden’s support plunging in key swing states and also putting other safe states at play. So aside from replacing Biden, is there anything that Democrats can do to kind of stop the proverbial bleeding at this point? 


Liz Bruenig: I think they need a way to replace Biden that’s graceful. It seems like that’s going to be hard because Biden doesn’t seem willing to step down from the race. And so I think the best thing for Democratic strategists to be doing right now is trying to come up with a way to transition to a new candidate that doesn’t signal weakness and chaos in the party. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Liz Bruenig: So they’ll need a narrative about why it was time to change and why they didn’t change earlier, and etc.. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Shifting away from just the top of the ticket here. What are the risks to down ballot races that all of this kind of poses? 


Liz Bruenig: I think there are some significant risks to down ballot races. Democrats need this to be a good election, and I don’t think that the Democratic Party right now is making itself look like a good steward of American politics. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if Biden’s performance at the top of the ticket negatively impacted how Democrats perform in this race, even if it’s only because of the risk of typical Democratic voters staying home. 


Priyanka Aribindi: If Biden were to drop out at this point, can you point to a candidate who could kind of cobble together the same coalition Biden did in 2020, or who could amass the coalition that Democrats would need to win the race? 


Liz Bruenig: You know, Gretchen Whitmer, her name has been tossed around quite a bit. I met Gretchen and interviewed her during the Michigan primary that Bernie Sanders was in in 2020, and she seemed like a completely competent, lucid, even charismatic figure. I would need to know more about her politics, which I don’t think are clear right now, and politics on a local level, even a state level is different than having a political vision for the country. But she’s a candidate that doesn’t immediately anyway strike me as unreasonable. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I just want to follow up on that and ask about Vice President Harris because she’s there. But what do you make of what would happen if she were the alternative? 


Liz Bruenig: I mean, she polls even worse than Biden. I think it’s really impossible at this stage to deal with that. I mean, how do you reverse someone’s image on the national stage when you only have a handful of months until the election? I mean, there might be ways to improve Harris’s standing with the public, but the Democrats haven’t undertaken those measures. 


Priyanka Aribindi: On top of the debate we also got, you know, a slew of gutting Supreme Court decisions Friday and Monday. Chief among them being the decision granting Trump broad immunity for his role in the insurrection. And then yesterday, Trump’s sentencing in his criminal hush money case was delayed until September as a direct result of that decision. Taken all together, where does this all leave the coalition of people who don’t want to see Trump back in office? 


Liz Bruenig: If anybody was counting on legal consequences for Trump’s past behavior interfering with his participation in the election. I think those hopes are pretty well dashed by now. So they’re just going to have to face Trump head on. Not as someone who is disqualified from the race, but as someone they have to actually beat in the race. And his polling numbers are, especially relative to Biden’s, pretty good right now. So that should be something that they begin focusing on in earnest, not holding out hope for one of these legal consequences. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I think there are a lot of people, a lot of voters who are feeling really not good after watching that debate, increasingly cynical after the last few days, but what do you think that they can do about it? Is there actual action that they can take at this point? 


Liz Bruenig: I would counsel people to pay attention to the alternative candidates that the Democrats are tossing around. See if they feel comfortable with any of those candidates. And then if that’s the case, if there’s someone who appears to have a good shot at taking the Democratic nomination away from Biden, I think it makes sense for voters to kind of rally around those people and demonstrate to the party that that’s who’d they prefer to vote to. On some level, the situation that we’re in, Biden versus Trump is a democratic outcome, which means people chose it. And I think that this is a demonstration of why our democracy needs to be much more sensitive to the desires of actual voters. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Liz Bruenig, staff writer at The Atlantic. This story is changing very quickly. We will obviously continue to keep an eye on it and keep you updated. 


Juanita Tolliver: And the other thing we will be keeping an eye on is these polling simulations, including the CNN poll that has Vice President Kamala Harris outperforming Biden, Whitmer, California’s governor Gavin Newsom, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in a head to head with convicted felon Donald Trump. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment, but if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Juanita Tolliver: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Juanita Tolliver: Justice Juan Merchan, the judge who presided over convicted felon Donald Trump’s hush money trial in New York, has delayed the former president’s sentencing until September. Trump was set to be sentenced on July 11th after he was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records. But his lawyers asked Merchan on Monday to put everything on pause, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision granting Trump broad immunity warrants a new trial. Prosecutors for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said that they were fine with delaying the sentencing, but that they don’t believe Trump’s defense has a strong case. The new date for the sentencing hearing is September 18th, less than two months before the election. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, I’m a bit miffed for multiple reasons, including the fact that I am scheduled to work on July 11th. I was personally looking forward to delivering this news to you all, but I just checked my calendar. I’ll be here on September 18th too so we– [laugh]


Juanita Tolliver: Victory!


Priyanka Aribindi: We’ll have a good time. It is not all bad news out of New York. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani lost his license to practice law in the state on Tuesday. Do you hear that? It is champagne bottles popping in the background. Giuliani’s New York law license was suspended in 2021 over his involvement in the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. And on Tuesday, a New York appeals court ordered that Giuliani be completely disbarred, writing that the ex-Trump lawyer had, quote, “no good faith basis to believe that the election was stolen.” A spokesperson for Giuliani said that now the ex-lawyer plans to appeal the order. But this is the least of Giuliani’s legal worries. D.C. officials recently recommended that he should be disbarred in Washington, too. He still faces federal charges in Arizona and in Georgia for election interference. 


Juanita Tolliver: You said miffed earlier. I’m a little miffed now that it seems like everybody is facing repercussions for January 6th and attempting to overturn the 2020 election, except for Donald Trump so. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Truly, it is mind boggling the way that everyone else has got caught up in the crossfire here. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And he is just walking free. 


Juanita Tolliver: President Biden proposed a new rule on Tuesday to protect around 35 million workers from excessive heat in their workplaces. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] Extreme heat is the number one weather related killer in the United States. More people die from extreme heat than floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined. 


Juanita Tolliver: Under the new rule, employers would be required to assemble adequate plans and training for protecting workers from heat related illnesses. Those include increasing breaks, access to shade and water, and making sure new employees are properly accustomed to working in the heat. Penalties for employers who defy heat related protections would also increase. The rule aims to safeguard folks who are likely to suffer from heat exposure on their jobs, including delivery workers, farm workers, construction workers and those who work in kitchens or warehouses. This comes during a summer that has proven to be historically hot. And while the rule would be the first of its kind, it’s still a ways away. The regulation wouldn’t be implemented until 2026. 


Priyanka Aribindi: The Food and Drug Administration approved a new drug that has shown promise in slowing cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. The drug, developed by Eli Lilly, will be sold under the brand name Kisunla. The once a month infusion works by targeting proteins in the brain that are believed to be associated with mild and early cases of Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials have shown the drug slowing the disease’s progress by a third. It is a big deal because it is now the second drug that the FDA has approved to help patients with Alzheimer’s. Roughly six million Americans have the disease, and that number could more than double by 2060, according to the National Institute of Health. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, this is really promising news. As someone who lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s, it’s such a devastating disease and any medications that can help people, I fully celebrate. So I’m really excited about this news. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. And those are the headlines. 




Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Celebrate Rudy Giuliani being disbarred and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just rare good news from the FDA like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


[spoken together] And keep your dogs away from RFK Jr.


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Please. 


Juanita Tolliver: Look, just so everybody knows, Josephine and Zora are safe. [laugh] Like I will protect my girls. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m picturing, like, a Facebook status update, like marked safe from RFK Jr. Thank you so much. 


Juanita Tolliver: Period. [laughter]


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.