Debate Fallout: Biden Plans to Stay on the Ticket

July 2, 2024

President Biden’s performance at last Thursday’s presidential debate has raised serious concerns among supporters about his ability to compete and win against former President Donald Trump.

Why it matters: While criticism of Biden’s age is nothing new, the stark display on primetime television rattled staunch defenders and precipitated media discussion on who might replace him on the Democratic ticket.

What they’re saying: The Biden camp has been regrouping and reaffirming the President’s commitment to run in November. As polling on the reaction starts to emerge, the narrative could shift.

Biden himself, at a rally the next day, referenced his poor performance but committed to staying the course:

“I don’t walk as easy as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. And I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done. And I know like millions of Americans know, when you get knocked down you get back up.” -President Biden

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign and Republicans pointed to Biden’s performance as validating their criticism of his age and fitness to serve.

What’s next: While it is a perilous moment for the Biden campaign, there has not yet been a groundswell of elected Democrats calling for him to bow out. And with the Democratic National Convention on the calendar for August 19-22, time is running very short for a replacement plan.

  • Biden has enough pledged delegates to win the nomination, so he would affirmatively half to withdraw to free delegates to choose another candidate.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris would be the most obvious choice for a replacement, though her 39% approval ratings is only marginally better than Biden’s.
  • Democratic Governors have also been floated as potential replacements, including Gavin Newsom (CA); J.B Pritzker (IL), Gretchen Whitmer (MI); Josh Shapiro (PA); and Wes Moore (MD).
  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama has long been touted by others as a potential candidate, though she has said often she has no interest in running for office.

The bottom line: While some insider sources are anonymously calling for Biden to be replaced, absent a groundswell of public defections, the ticket is unlikely to change. With primary season over, there is no clear path for a challenger absent action from Biden himself. As of now, the campaign appears ready to power through to November.

Contact David McCarthy ( with questions.


David McCarthy
Managing Director, Chief Lobbyist, 
Head of Legislative Affairs
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