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A fumbling performance, a panicking party – Times of India

WorldA fumbling performance, a panicking party - Times of India

US Prez Biden hoped to build fresh momentum for his re-election bid by agreeing to debate nearly two months before he is to be formally nominated. Instead, his halting and disjointed performance on Thursday prompted a wave of panic among Democrats and reopened discussion of whether he should be the nominee at all.
Over the course of 90 minutes, a raspy-voiced Biden struggled to deliver his lines and counter a sharp though deeply dishonest former prez Donald Trump, raising doubts about the incumbent prez’s ability to wage a vigorous and competitive campaign four months before the .Rather than dispel concerns about his age, Biden, 81, made it the central issue.

Democrats who have defended the prez for months against his doubters – including members of his own administration – traded frenzied phone calls and text messages. Practically in despair, some took to social media to express shock, while others privately discussed among themselves whether it was too late to persuade the prez to step aside in favour of a younger candidate. “Biden is about to face a crescendo of calls to step aside,” said a veteran Democratic strategist who has staunchly backed Biden publicly. “Parties exist to win. The man on the stage with Trump cannot win.”
A group of House Democrats said they watched the debate together, and one, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, called it a “disaster”. The person said the group was discussing the need for a new nominee. Mark Buell, a prominent donor, said: “Do we have time to put somebody else in there?”
Biden’s advisers have long dismissed any speculation about him dropping out, rejecting it as unjustified nervousness even as he has trailed Trump in battleground states needed for victory. California governor Gavin Newsom, one of those mentioned as a possible replacement for Biden other than VP Kamala Harris, brushed off talk about switching candidates. “I would never turn my back on Prez Biden, and I don’t know a Democrat in my party who would do so.” Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro, another possible replacement, urged Democrats to stop worrying. “Biden had a bad debate, right, but Trump was a bad president.”
Biden’s troubles brought to mind Ronald Reagan’s first debate in 1984, when he appeared old and out of it; he salvaged his campaign at his next debate with a well-timed joke about not exploiting his opponent’s youth and inexperience.

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