Democratic governors stand with Biden after ‘candid’ conversation

After a meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Democratic governors said they stand by the president despite his lackluster debate performance last week. 

The meeting with Biden lasted for more than an hour at the White House. Several of his party’s top leaders attended in person and virtually, who afterward, described the conversation as "candid." 

"The president is our nominee. The president is our party leader," said Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland. He added that, in the meeting, Biden "was very clear that he’s in this to win." 

And, despite Biden's vow that he would keep running for reelection and reassuring leaders he was focused on efforts to correct course, concerns about a possible Trump victory in November were still prevalent. 

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FILE - Kathy Hochul, governor of New York, from left, Tim Walz, governor of Minnesota, and Wes Moore, governor of Maryland, exit the West Wing of the White House in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, July 3, 2024. ( Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The meeting comes after Democratic governors held their own call previously and asked Biden to speak with them, according to three people with knowledge of the president's schedule. 

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, said that on the previous call, governors spoke to "what was obviously a poor performance" in the debate with participants "asking questions about, what is the plan?" 

The discussion with governors and Democratic congressional leaders is the strongest indication yet that Biden is attempting to calm fears among some Democrats, who worry he may not be up to continuing a campaign — much less defeat Donald Trump — following his sometimes raspy and halting performance during last week's debate in Atlanta. 

Biden denounced the Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity on Monday night but had otherwise announced a largely politics-free and business-as-usual post debate schedule — including planning to host July 4 celebrations at the White House for Thursday’s holiday. 

Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett called Tuesday for Biden to formally withdraw from the race, and that followed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying on MSNBC that it is fair to ask whether Biden's debate showing was an anomaly or part of a larger pattern. 

"I think it’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition," Pelosi said. There is also no indication that the president is seriously considering stepping aside. 

His campaign has downplayed the president’s political problems in a series of memos and private meetings with donors, strategists and party insiders, insisting that Biden can put the bad debate performance behind him without hurting his long-term chances in November. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.