Democrats react to Biden’s first presidential debate

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. Image courtesy of Creative Commons.

By Haley Clough 

President Joe Biden’s mental and physical fitness has been a question and criticism for months, and has come to a head in recent days. And in the wake of the recent presidential debate between President Biden and former president Donald Trump last Thursday, the democratic party has become more fragmented and wrought with chaos on the performance of the incumbent president.

During the debate, he often stumbled over his words or lost his train of thought, or diverted his commentary to an irrelevant topic. 

In response to a question on healthcare policies, Biden said “the covid — excuse me, with — dealing with everything we have to do with — look — if — we finally beat Medicare,” at which point his time ran out to speak. His seemingly lost train of thought was not an isolated incident, and these moments – mumbling or inability to finish sentences coherently– Trump did not ignore. 

“I really don’t know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don’t think he knows what he said either,” Trump said at one point during the debate, when Biden struggled to summarize a thought pertaining to border control. The former president latched onto Biden’s debate performance as further backing of his own competency and prowess. The current president was unable to defend himself against Trump’s criticism. 

According to CNBC, major donors to the Democratic Party are sharing concern. “This is terrible. Worse than I thought was possible. Everyone I’m speaking with thinks Biden should drop out,” an anonymous donor told CNBC. An anonymous Democratic campaign advisor told CNBC “Biden’s got to leave. He’s got to get out now and if he doesn’t get out we’re going to get f——- crushed,” in the wake of his lackluster debate performance. 

In a recent interview, Chief White House correspondent for ABC, Jonathan Karl, told viewers “there’s no way to replace Joe Biden unless Joe Biden himself decides it is time to step down.” 

Despite commentary from advisors and voters alike, many continue to endorse his presidential campaign. After a retreat to Camp David with his family, it became apparent that the Bidens were to remain steadfast in their belief that he should continue his reelection efforts.

Polling from Ipsos showed a decline in voters’ confidence in Biden’s physical and mental abilities from before and after the debate. In regard to his mental fitness, that fraction fell from 27% to 20% after Thursday night. When it comes to the president’s performance compared to Trump, the same polling shows that 60% of voters believe Trump was stronger in the debate. 

While many democratic voters are voicing concerns for Biden’s wellbeing, this does not necessarily mean they have shifted to voting Republican. In spite of the criticism and anxiety towards Biden, Trump is only leading in the polls by a margin, at 41.7% to Biden’s 40.4%. 

The two candidates will meet for a second debate on September 10, which will be hosted by ABC News.