Biden’s woeful week: President’s post-debate week plagued by Democratic dissension, doubts, and Trump victories

President Joe Biden’s week following his shaky debate performance against former President Donald Trump could hardly have been worse. After the gaffe-filled debate, Biden’s team spent the week scrambling to perform damage control to calm a panicking Democratic Party. The first sitting Democrats broke ranks to ask Biden to step down, Trump shot ahead in […]

President Joe Biden’s week following his shaky debate performance against former President Donald Trump could hardly have been worse.

After the gaffe-filled debate, Biden’s team spent the week scrambling to perform damage control to calm a panicking Democratic Party. The first sitting Democrats broke ranks to ask Biden to step down, Trump shot ahead in polls and won legal victories, and Biden continued to struggle to prove his mental fitness for four more years in office.

Here is a rundown of perhaps the toughest week of Biden’s presidency yet:

President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., as he leaves for a campaign trip to Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


After an initial storm of criticism immediately following the debate, including calls to step down by prominent groups such as the New York Times editorial board, an uneasy calm emerged with the onset of the weekend, a calm which largely carried through Monday. A post-debate rally appearance, where Biden appeared more agile, was pitched by the campaign as a sign Biden’s bad night was nothing more than a bump in the road to reelection.

The first cracks emerged with one of the first post-debate polls, from Cygnal, which showed Trump with a 4-point lead over Biden in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, which the president had won in 2020. Worse yet, the data showed Trump building momentum, with his net favorability increasing to 45% while Biden’s stood at just 39%.

Liberal comedian Bill Maher said that Biden should step down in an op-ed for the New York Times, putting forward Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) as his preferred candidate.

The one exception to the Monday calm was Trump’s greatest legal victory since being indicted last year. In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court found that presidents are granted “absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within his conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority” and “presumptive immunity” for all official acts. However, it held there is no immunity for “unofficial” acts.

Though applying to him as well, Biden denounced the ruling on the same day.

One of the most significant developments on Monday was the deafening silence of many Democrats over Biden’s debate performance.

Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), one of the closest senators to Biden, declined to comment or offer any support for Biden in response to a question on Monday.

Unfortunately for Biden, the uneasy calm wouldn’t last beyond Monday.


In a week of misfortunes, Tuesday was the worst for Biden, with a series of simultaneous blows bringing his entire candidacy into question.

The day began with a damning report from Politico, assembled from interviews with more than two dozen Democrats with knowledge of the inside workings of the White House. The report portrayed Biden as angry and cloistered by a “cabal” of close advisers, cut off from the outside world. The president’s team disputed the characterization. The report was the beginning of several highly negative press depictions of the president throughout the week.

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Tuesday saw an influx of calls of concern from major and sitting Democrats, beginning with a close ally, former Rep. Tim Ryan, the first 2020 presidential candidate to drop out to endorse him, suggesting he step down in favor of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Former Rep. Tim Ryan, Reps. Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jared Golden (D-ME), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA), and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Obama Cabinet member Julian Castro, 2024 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, and Colorado congressional candidate Adam Frisch all either expressed deep skepticism about the prospect of a Democratic victory or called for Biden to step down.

Doggett went the furthest in his criticism, saying that Biden must withdraw for the good of the country.

Golden, who faces a difficult reelection bid this November, wrote in an op-ed released on Tuesday that Biden’s debate performance was “not a surprise” and it has been clear “for months” that Trump is going to win the presidential election.

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) showed her first signs of doubt. In a departure from earlier statements, the California Democrat said in an interview on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports that both Trump and Biden should take cognitive tests, a long-standing demand of Trump’s team.

She also said that voter concerns about Biden’s mental fitness were justified, and said it was up to Biden as to whether or not to drop out.

The next embarrassment came from an admission from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. She revealed that embattled first son Hunter Biden attended a meeting with his father before the president’s speech regarding the Supreme Court’s immunity decision.

Her remarks lent credence to reports that Hunter Biden has been closely advising his father in political matters. Jean-Pierre was then inundated with questions about Joe Biden’s mental fitness, to which she grew visibly frustrated.

“I have an answer for you: Are you ready for it?” Jean-Pierre responded when asked if the president has dementia or any other degenerative mental illness. “It’s a no. And I hope you’re asking the other guy the same exact question.”

Then, Puck News obtained a leaked, damning Democratic internal poll showing Joe Biden with one of if not his worst showings in the presidential cycle yet. The president was found to be behind in every swing state, in several by double digits.

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The polling showed Joe Biden behind Trump by about 10% in North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona, the last two of which the president won in 2020.

Trump also leads the president in Pennsylvania and Michigan, as well as Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Virginia, and New Mexico, according to the survey.

Twisting the knife, Trump’s legal position improved substantially, with Judge Juan Merchan delaying Trump’s sentencing in the New York hush money case until September in light of the recent Supreme Court immunity decision.

Trump was formerly set to be sentenced on July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention. The delay all but guarantees Trump won’t see jail time before the November election and won’t face any restrictions on campaigning in the crucial months leading up to the election.

Biden concluded his day by soothing donors at a fundraiser event late on Tuesday, admitting to his poor debate performance but blaming it on traveling too much during a six-minute address.

“I decided to travel around the world a couple of times … shortly before the debate. … I  didn’t listen to my staff … and then I almost fell asleep onstage,” he said, saying the move “wasn’t very smart.”

The excuse was his second after the White House initially claimed that he had a cold. It left many unconvinced, as he returned from his international travels nearly two weeks before the debate.

A Democratic aide claimed to Reuters that a group of 25 House Democrats were planning to call on him to withdraw himself from the presidential race if he “seems shaky” in the days to come.

To cap things off, the Washington Post released a report saying that former President Barack Obama privately told allies that Biden’s performance at the debate significantly complicates his reelection chances, a harsher analysis than the one he publicly gave.


Wednesday saw a continuation of the shakiness from many Democrats of the previous day. Biden held a call with Democratic governors, and he assured them of his mental fitness and intention to stay in the race. However, several leaked details of the call caused concern among some Democrats.

A person who attended the meeting told the New York Times that at one point during the call, Biden joked that his health was OK, “It’s just my brain.”

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Though interpreted by some as a joke, the outlet reported that others were unsure how to interpret the remark.

He also reportedly told those in attendance that he would get more sleep and work fewer hours, while curtailing most events past 8 p.m.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), a key Biden ally who all but guaranteed his nomination in 2020, made a similar move to Pelosi, entertaining some dissent within the Democratic Party over Biden.

“You can actually fashion the process that’s already in place to make it a mini primary, and I would support that absolutely,” he said in an interview on CNN. “We can’t close that down, and we should open up everything for the general election.”

A spokeswoman for Clyburn later clarified in a statement to Politico that the congressman was not planning to replace Biden and was only speaking hypothetically.

Two Democrats joined the growing number of sitting representatives calling for Biden to drop out – Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Seth Moulton (D-MA).

Biden’s declining stance in the race was further confirmed by a New York Times/Siena poll, which gave Trump his largest lead since the poll was first taken in 2015, improving his position in front of Biden in the week since the debate by 3 points to put him up overall by 6.


The United States’s 248th birthday saw even more pressure mounted on Biden, including some of his harshest press coverage yet.

The Washington Post published a hypothetical July 4 speech in which Biden announced he was stepping down as a presidential candidate. New York magazine published an extensive piece detailing Biden’s alleged mental decline, citing anonymous Democrats, describing Biden’s appearance as “something not of this earth.”

The Economist published its cover piece for its weekly magazine featuring a walker with the presidential seal, saying that Biden should step down.

“If the debate was awful for Joe Biden, but the cover-up has been worse. It was agony to watch a befuddled old man struggling to recall words and facts,” the editorial board wrote. “But the operation by his campaign to deny what tens of millions of Americans saw with their own eyes is more toxic than either, because its dishonesty provokes contempt.”

Concerns weren’t helped by a gaffe in an appearance on a black radio station, Philadelphia’s WURD radio station, during which he declared himself the “first black woman” to serve as vice-president “with a black president.”

In another interview with Wisconsin’s Civic Media, he admitted that he “screwed up” with the debate.

While betting markets surged toward Biden being replaced with Harris, major democratic donors began expressing their unwillingness to contribute anything to the 2024 race unless Biden was replaced.


Abigail Disney, heiress of the Disney fortune, pledged to withdraw all donations to the Democratic Party until Biden takes himself out of the race. She was joined by philanthropist Karla Jurvetson and Moriah Fund President Gideon Stein.

Another group of Democratic donors and strategists are pooling their resources into the Next Generation PAC, which hopes to raise $100 million to support any Democratic candidate that replaces Biden.

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