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Joe Biden Had Slow Start, Admits Vice President Kamala Harris On Tense Presidential Debate

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Biden Had 'Slow Start', Admits Vice President On Tense Presidential Debate

Washington, United States:

Democratic President Joe Biden and his Republican rival Donald Trump faced off in the first presidential debate of the 2024 race. Below are reactions from lawmakers, political analysts, strategists and leaders of advocacy groups:

Kamala Harris, Vice President

“What we saw tonight is the president making a very clear contrast with Donald Trump on all the issues that matter to the American people. Yes it was a slow start but it was a strong finish,” Harris told CNN when asked about concerns that Biden should step aside.

“People can debate on style points but ultimately this election … has to be about substance,” she said.

“I’m not going to spend all night with you talking about the last 90 minutes when I’ve been watching the last three-and-a-half years of performance.”

Top Biden Donor, Who Did Not Wish To Be Named

“There is no way to spin this. His performance was disqualifying. There is going to be a call for a brokered convention. Whitmer, Pritzker, Newsom, Beshear. Those could all be the options. It’s inevitable.”

The donor added that it would likely come down to Jill Biden to convince him. “He (Biden) is a stubborn guy … It cannot be described how bad this performance was.”

The donor said they thought Andy Beshear, the popular Democratic governor of Kentucky, a deeply Republican state at the federal level, would be the likely winner.

“He won red Kentucky. He’ll be a great candidate who can still bring this home. I don’t think Newsom (Democratic governor of California) will win.”

Fundraising will “dry up,” the donor predicted. “Money follows enthusiasm. How can anyone with a straight face say donate to elect Joe? … I will continue to fundraise for him. What else can we all do? There is no option.”

Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock

“I would be concerned if the president didn’t have a record to run on, but the fact of the matter is this is a man who’s passed historic legislation,” Warnock said after the debate.

Julian Castro, Former Hud Secretary Under President Barack Obama

“Tonight was completely predictable. Biden had a very low bar going into the debate and failed to clear even that bar,” Castro said on social media network X. “He seemed unprepared, lost, and not strong enough to parry effectively with Trump, who lies constantly.”

Amy Walter, Editor-In-Chief Of The Cook Political Report And A Prominent Political Analyst

The debate “only served to remind voters of Biden’s weaknesses, especially his health and stamina,” Walters said. “To be sure, Trump did not ‘win’ this debate as much as Biden lost it. Trump lobbed multiple falsehoods and lies. He failed to make a positive case for his second term, spending more time litigating Biden’s failures. But, Trump is leading in the polls and doesn’t need a ‘rest’ in the way Biden does.”

“I don’t think that this debate will sway undecided voters, especially those who say they dislike both candidates. If you came into this debate thinking both men were unsatisfactory choices, their debate performances did not disabuse you of this opinion.”

Mitch Landrieu, Biden Campaign Co-Chair

“Well, I thought it was a really bare-knuckled brawl. I think they’re right, the president started off slow, but then he came back,” Landrieu said on NBC News.

Landrieu acknowledged that the physical performance aspect of the debate will be top of people’s minds. “But when you get into the substance of what was said, I think the takeaway from this was that Joe Biden was right on the substance. He told the truth.”

Matt Grossmann, Political Science Professor At Michigan State University

“Obviously the biggest factor is that Biden still seemed old and raspy and less coherent than when he ran last time, and that’s going to be the big story, I think, out of the debate. I don’t think Trump really did anything to help himself beyond his existing supporters, but I think it is eclipsed by people’s impressions of Biden on his biggest vulnerability.”

Grossmann said that from the beginning of the debate Biden had trouble getting his points across “and just seemed a lot softer.” He said Biden didn’t really start delivering effective answers until 20 minutes into the debate. “It’s hard to recover from that.”

Grossmann said that debates typically have a small impact on presidential races and that impact dissipates over time. “Debates do not normally have huge influence on election results. But because we’re at this 50-50 election where the country is divided, any small change can make a difference.”

Grossmann said one problem for Biden is that some of his supporters are expressing their concerns about his performance rather than defending it. “So there’s not a message in his favor. And to the extent that it has an influence, the influence will be to make people’s concerns about Biden’s age even more salient.”

Tevi Troy, Bipartisan Policy Center Fellow And Presidential Historian:

Overall the debate “is going to be a problem for Biden,” Troy said. Biden had a lot of answers where he looked weak. “There were other answers where he was more solid, but it doesn’t matter because the problematic answers are going to live on through Twitter and social media.”

Trump on the other hand was “more restrained” than in previous debates, Troy said. The rules of the debate where they shut off the mics “actually helped him (Trump) so he wasn’t interrupting and didn’t seem quite as rude.”

“There’s the phenomenon of the double haters, where people like neither candidate … One guy’s crazy, the other guy’s too old. They were definitely validated in thinking the one guy is too old, and in terms of the crazy I think Trump did dial it down.”

Adrianne Shropshire, Executive Director Of Blackpac, An Organization That Works To Mobilize Black Voters

Shropshire said she wrote down two things in her notepad while watching the debate. “One is that Trump lies,” she said. The other was that Biden “was not as forceful as I thought he needed to be.”

Shropshire criticized the moderators for allowing Trump to make various false claims without any pushback. “Trump was essentially allowed to do what he does at his rallies, which is say whatever he wants, regardless of the relationship it has to the truth. And that was really unfortunate.”

Shropshire said Biden could have pushed back on Trump’s false claims more forcefully. “I think he tried to take the high road by talking policy. And I think that has its place. But when we think about where our politics are right now, there really is a need to just assert facts and assert them very clearly. And I think that got muddled a bit in his policy responses.”

Shropshire said she was not as worried as others who have said Biden had an unsteady performance that could increase about his age. “He has great performances that people have talked about just in the past few months,” she said. “I also think that it just doesn’t change the dynamics of the race, because they also saw Trump standing next to Joe Biden, and I don’t think that they saw someone who was stronger necessarily. I think they saw the same unhinged Trump that they see at every rally and in clips when they’re on social media.”

Shropshire said one strong moment for Biden was when he pointed out that Trump was a convicted felon and criticized his morality. She also said that Trump’s reference to migrants taking Black jobs had become “a hilarious meme all across Black Twitter right now.” She said it showed how Trump was failing to connect with Black voters. “That there are specific Black jobs for Black people that immigrants are coming to take. Utter nonsense.”

Waleed Shahid, Senior Democratic Strategist And A Spokesperson For The National Uncommitteed Movement Against Biden

“You can be mad at Biden but honestly the party establishment has been misleading people about Biden’s electability. And it’s malpractice – political and moral malpractice,” Shahid said. “He completely lost the debate and if the strategy is to go into using the same tactics, where they want to recycle the 2016 playbook and make this an election about fact checking, that is not going to win.”

Shahid called the debate “a tipping point,” adding that “voters aren’t stupid.”

“I think we’ll see what shakes out in a couple of weeks. But if they do end up replacing the candidate, that candidate does need time. So I don’t know what will end up happening. I mean, this is unprecedented.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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