Biden meets with Democratic governors as White House works to drum up support

Washington President Biden spoke with Democratic governors on Wednesday night as the White House and his re-election campaign work to shore up support for him after last week’s defeat. shaky debate performance.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, attended the White House meeting, along with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Delaware Gov. John Carney and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. Others attended virtually.

“Yes, he is fit for office,” Walz told reporters outside the White House after the meeting. “…None of us deny that Thursday night was a poor performance, a poor hit, if you want to call it that, but it has no bearing on what I believe he is delivering.”

Moore was more measured in his remarks, saying the governors were “honest” with Biden “about the feedback” they received about the debate.

“We were honest about the concerns that we heard from people,” Moore said. “And we were also honest about the fact that, as the president continued to tell us and show us that he was going to go all the way, we said we were going to stand with him.”

Hochul said Biden is “doing everything he can to win,” adding that “all of us” at the meeting “pledged our support for him because the stakes couldn’t be higher.”

“I have great confidence in his abilities, we talked about the plan and how he’s going to focus on issues that are important to Americans, and I came out of this meeting feeling very confident,” Hochul said.

In a separate statement released through his office, Newsom said he heard “three words from the president — he’s all for it. And so am I. Joe Biden has our back. Now it’s time to support him.”

The meeting comes as the White House and Biden’s campaign work to keep Democratic governors and other elected Democrats in the ranks after his rocky debate. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democratic lawmaker to call on Mr. Biden to withdraw of Tuesday’s presidential election, a suggestion the campaign quickly dismissed.

In a campaign call with all staff earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Biden said said he will stay in the racesources familiar with the phone call told CBS News.

“Let me say this as clearly and simply and directly as I can: I’m in. I’m the nominee of the Democratic Party. Nobody is pushing me out. I’m not leaving,” the president said, according to a source.

The meeting with governors is notable because so far it has been Biden’s top advisers and advisors who have reached out to elected Democrats to reassure them after his debate performance. Members of the Democratic Governors Association held a call Monday to discuss the ongoing backlash from last week’s debate and widespread concern among state leaders that Mr. Biden has made little contact with governors, particularly over the course of the campaign, according to two people familiar with the arrangements for the call.

Biden’s campaign tried to make time for Vice President Harris to speak to governors, but the governors decided Monday they wanted to speak directly to the president.

“They want to hear from him personally before they stick their necks out for him again,” said one of the people familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could speak candidly.

Before the meeting, Hochul and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy — who hosted one of the fundraisers the president and first lady attended in the New York area over the weekend — were the only two governors known to have spoken directly to Biden since the debate.

Mr. Beshear told reporters Monday that “the debate performance was poor” but that he will continue to support Mr. Biden “as long as he remains in the race.” Mr. Beshear added that Mr. Biden is the nominee, and “only he can make decisions about his candidacy.”

Beshear, Pritzker and Whitmer — all governors who have been floated as candidates to replace the president if he were to step down as the presumptive Democratic nominee — co-headlined a fundraiser in Los Angeles for Mr. Biden on Thursday night. The event was a multimillion-dollar affair that put potential future presidential candidates in a room full of donors who could bankroll their future campaigns.

On “Take on the nation“On Sunday, Moore was emphatic about his continued support for the president, insisting that “Joe Biden is our nominee. Joe Biden is our leader.”

Hunter Woodall contributed to this report.

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