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Biden aims to change negative narrative after rough debate with Trump

As President Biden aims to address Democratic Party panic after his rough debate performance against Trump, his campaign touts a fundraising surge to deflect the negative narrative

President Biden, on the day after the most consequential political performance of his decades-long career, aimed to address Democratic Party panic after his disastrous debate performance in his first faceoff with former President Trump.

“I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” Biden, who at 81 is the oldest president in the nation’s history, told cheering supporters at a Friday afternoon rally in the crucial battleground state of North Carolina.

“Folks, 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,” Biden acknowledged. “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.”


And the president, pointing to his 2024 rematch with Trump, emphasized, “I would not be running again if I did not believe with all my heart and soul that I can do this job.”

A RASPY BIDEN DELIVERS A HALTING DEBATE PERFORMANCE IN SHOWDOWN WITH TRUMP

As Biden worked to calm his party, his campaign repeatedly highlighted what it described as record-breaking fundraising both during and after the debate as it seemingly aimed to deflect from a brutal narrative coming out of the showdown in Atlanta.

WHAT THE NEW YORK TIMES IS ASKING BIDEN TO DO

And Biden’s campaign on Friday morning announced that it hauled in $14 million in fundraising Thursday and Friday morning, which it highlighted as “a sign of strength of our grassroots support.”

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Struggling with a raspy voice and delivering rambling answers, Biden struggled during portions of the debate. The president did sharpen his answers as the debate progressed, calling out his Republican predecessor in the White House for numerous falsehoods throughout the 90-minute debate.

But Biden’s uneven and, at times, halting performance grabbed the vast majority of headlines from the debate and sparked a new round of calls from political pundits and publications and some Democrats for the president to step aside as the party’s standard-bearer. Top Biden allies pushed back against such talk as they defended the president and targeted Trump for lying throughout the debate.

And the Biden campaign spotlighted that the 11 p.m. ET hour Thursday night — the one hour after the debate — “was the single best hour of fundraising since the campaign’s launch in April 2023.”

WHAT BIDEN SAID AT HIS FIRST POST-DEBATE RALLY

A Biden campaign adviser, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News the fundraising is “an important sign that there’s a bit of disconnect between national narratives and where supporters are.”

Following his rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, the president and first lady Jill Biden traveled to New York City, where they joined superstars Elton John and Katy Perry and top Democratic Party elected officials to unveil the city’s Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center. The grand opening was timed to kick off New York City’s Pride weekend and mark the 55th anniversary of the historic rebellion that marked a turning point for LGBTQ+liberation.

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Biden then headlined a campaign fundraiser Friday evening in New York City that his campaign touted was “the largest LGBTQ fundraising event in political history.”

On Saturday, the president was scheduled to attend two more top dollar fundraisers in the wealthy communities of East Hampton, New York, and Red Bank, New Jersey.

“Biden‘s record grassroots fundraising from the day of the debate is critical. It helps blunt the criticism from Biden’s performance,” veteran political strategist and Democratic National Committee member Maria Cardona told Fox News.

Cardona, a top Biden supporter, said spotlighting the fundraising “reminds Democrats that there is enthusiasm for the president and urgency to make sure that the liar and criminal Donald Trump doesn’t get close to the Oval Office.”

A Democratic strategist and presidential campaign veteran said team Biden’s focus on fundraising “is their best and maybe their only card to play.”

But the strategist, who was granted anonymity to speak more freely, emphasized “there’s no amount of money that can reverse the damage that was done at the debate and the president confirming everyone’s worst suspicions and fears about him and his age and not being up to the job. Period.” 

But Trump campaign senior adviser Brian Hughes discounted the fundraising.

“As of last week, the Biden campaign has spent $100 million on cable, TV and radio. They’ve spent money on a bloated organization. Yet President Trump’s lead has grown in battleground states, and now we see polling and enthusiasm on the ground putting Virginia and Minnesota in play for the GOP nominee for the first time in many election cycles,” Hughes told Fox News.

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The Trump campaign, enjoying the post-debate narrative, had no need to immediately emphasize its own fundraising.

But the campaign told Fox News Friday afternoon it brought in $8 million the day of the debate.

Republican National Committee Chair Michael Whatley, a top Trump ally, said hours earlier in an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” that “the donations have been coming in, very strong, very steady. And that’s because the people saw his positioning last night during the debate. The donations, especially the small dollar online donations that we’re getting in right now, are really a reflection of the enthusiasm that the president brings to the campaign.”

And Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita told Fox News Digital Thursday night the debate performance was “added rocket fuel” to the former president’s fundraising and in “motivating the troops.”

Dan Eberhart, an oil drilling CEO and a prominent Republican donor, is raising money for Trump after earlier supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential nomination race. 

“The donors I have texted with are now more confident of a Trump win,” Eberhart said. “For any donors that were still on the sideline, last night was the push they needed to put their chips on Trump.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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