Democratic lawmakers weigh in on Biden’s first post-debate interview

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Democratic lawmakers weigh in on Biden’s first post-debate interview

President Biden’s first post-debate interview with ABC seemingly did little to change the minds of Democrats who were rattled by Biden’s poor debate showing last week and have questioned his ability to beat former President Trump in November.

The interview was seen as the president’s make-or-break moment to try and reassure voters and leaders within the party that the lackluster performance on stage — when Biden appeared to lack energy, had a raspy voice and stumbled over his words — was a one-time thing.

The debate sounded an alarm among Democrats as to whether he should stay at the top of the ticket. While several names have been floated as potential replacements, the incumbent has insisted that he intends to remain in the race.

Several Democratic lawmakers have joined the calls for Biden to drop out of the race and make room for someone else to challenge Trump in the fall — some even questioning if the president could make it through another four years in office.

Here’s what some of them had to say following Biden’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) questions special counsel Robert Hur during a House Judiciary Committee hearing to discuss Hur’s investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. (Greg Nash)

“Strong interview tonight from the President,” Jackson Lee posted on social media platform X Friday night, in response to another post by Biden which featured a clip of the interview.

Jackson Lee has stood behind Biden, despite questions swirling among the party about his mental fitness. Earlier Friday, she said that there “should be no mention of the President stepping down.”

“We know Joe Biden for who he is. Instead, I am raising my voice in outrage at Donald Trump’s created monster that is Project 2025,” the Texas Democrat wrote. “I have read this document, it is a disgrace. Now is the time to stop it. Enough is enough!”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett

FILE – Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 16, 2015. Doggett has become the first in the party to publicly call for President Joe Biden to step down as the Democratic nominee for president, citing Biden’s debate performance failing to “effectively defend his many accomplishments.” (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

Doggett was the first sitting House Democrat to call for Biden to step down days after the debate debacle.

The Texas Democrat joined CNN’s Jim Sciutto Friday following Biden’s appearance on ABC. Asked if he heard anything from the incumbent in the highly anticipated interview that made him “second guess” his call, Doggett didn’t appear optimistic, saying “nothing.”

“Joe Biden is a good man, he’s an American patriot, yet the need for him to step aside is more urgent tonight than when I first called for it on Tuesday,” Doggett added.

Earlier this week, Doggett pointed to Biden’s trailing poll numbers as reason for him to pass the baton, arguing that he has even run behind Democratic senators in key states.

“I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not,” Doggett said in a statement post-debate. “Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies.”

Sen. Chris Coons

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) is seen during the annual White House Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (Greg Nash)

Coons, like Jackson Lee, celebrated Biden’s showing in the ABC interview.

“President Biden has delivered remarkable progress for the American people, and he has plans to do even more in his next term,” Coons said Friday in a post on X, responding to the Biden campaign’s clip of the interview. “I can’t wait to help him continue to take the fight to Trump and win in November.”

Coons a close ally of Biden and a national co-chair of his campaign, acknowledged after the debate that the president needed to conduct more interviews and host more events without a teleprompter.

“We do need to see more unscripted and off-the-record moments,” Coons said Monday. “That is something I’m encouraging.”

Rep. Mike Quigley

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) speaks to press in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, United States on November 8, 2023. (Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Quigley became the fourth Democrat — behind Doggett and Reps. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) and Seth Moulton (Mass.) — to push for Biden to step down Friday.

He was asked about his response to a clip of the interview by ABC News’ Juju Chang.

“If you are told, reliably, from your allies, from your friends and supporters in the Democratic party in the House and the Senate, that they’re concerned you’re gonna lose the House and the Senate if you stay in, what will you do?” Stephanopoulos asked Biden in the clip.

“I’m not gonna answer that question,” Biden responded. “It’s not gonna happen.”

Quigley replied to the video, saying he’s “not sure I share his confidence” when it comes to potentially losing both houses of Congress.

In his call for Biden to step aside, the Illinois Democrat said the president’s legacy is already set and he should give someone else a chance.

“Mr. President, your legacy is set. We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude,” Quigley said in an interview on MSNBC. “The only thing that you can do now to cement that for all time and prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this.”

He previously said poll numbers would be the only thing to change Biden’s mind. Despite a drop in the polls post-debate, however, the incumbent continues to insist he will continue and win.

Sen. John Fetterman

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., left, is interviewed, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, on FOX News Channel’s Special Report with Bret Baier, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Fetterman was asked by Sciutto on “CNN Newsroom” Friday for his response to the ABC interview and if he heard “enough” from Biden to quell Democrats’ concerns.

The freshman senator didn’t directly answer the question.

“Well, of course it’s gonna be an ongoing conversation,” he said, adding, “But yes, of course, he did a fine job on that.”

Fetterman has been an intense defender of Biden in the post-debate chaos, sharply responding to The New York Times’ editorial board requesting Biden halt his campaign.

“F— that,” the Pennsylvania senator wrote in response on X last week.