Politics and Government

Biden tells Democrats he’s not leaving the race, and it’s time to stop talking about it

President Biden in Harrisburg, Pa., on July 7, 2024. As lawmakers returned to Washington, Biden sent them a two-page letter telling them to stop speculating about his departure, because he's not leaving.
President Biden in Harrisburg, Pa., on July 7.
Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

President Biden sent a two-page letter to Democratic lawmakers on Monday to say that “I am firmly committed to staying in this race," saying speculation over his future was helping former President Donald Trump — and that it was time to stop.

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end. We have one job,” Biden said.

Biden, 81, has been insistent that he would continue his campaign even after he badly faltered in a debate with Trump — a performance that alarmed Democrats worried about his ability to run, win and govern. He has said he had a cold and jet lag, and has been working since to try to demonstrate he is still up to the job.

On Monday morning, he called in to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and angrily defended his record and decision.

“I beat him last time,” he said on Trump. “I’ll beat him this time.”

Biden also said he last had a neurological exam as part of his physical in February.

Biden sounded frustrated during his conversation on MSNBC. He dismissed calls from prominent Democrats for him to withdraw from the race, saying: “I don’t care what those big names think,” adding he was getting “frustrated ... by the elites in the party.”

“They were wrong in 2020, wrong in 2022 about the ‘red wave,’ and they’re wrong in 2024,” he said.

“I’m not going to explain any more about what I should or shouldn’t do,” Biden added. “I am running. I am running.”

Biden also said people who say he should drop out should run and challenge him at the Democratic convention next month.

“Come on, give me a break. Come with me. Watch. Watch,” he said, referencing voter support in recent campaign stops. “I’m getting so frustrated by the elites ... in the party who [think] ‘they know so much more.’ But if any of these guys don’t think I should run, run against me. Go ahead. Announce for president. Challenge me at the convention.”

In his letter, Biden said he had spoken with party leaders and Democratic voters and said, “I am not blind” to the concerns expressed, but said: “I wouldn’t be running again if I did not absolutely believe I was the best person to beat Donald Trump in 2024.”

He said Democratic voters had spoken during the primaries — and that it was their decision to make, “not the press, not the pundits, not the big donors.”

“This was a process open to anyone who wanted run. Only three people chose to challenge me. One fared so badly that he left the primaries to run as an independent. Another attacked me for being too told and was soundly defeated,” he said, apparently referring to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., respectively.

NPR’s Elena Moore contributed to this report

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