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Fmr top Dems rally behind Biden amid dropout calls, claim debate performance was due to ‘preparation overload’

Nancy Pelosi and James Clyburn remained loyal to President Biden during Sunday show appearances, making explanations for his embarrassing debate.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and former House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., rallied behind President Biden during television appearances Sunday, saying he should remain in the race despite his disastrous debate performance.

The lawmakers admitted during appearances on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Biden had a “bad night” Thursday, but both rejected the growing calls for him to drop out of the race. Pelosi claimed he only struggled due to former President Trump’s on-stage “lies,” while Clyburn argued his poor performance was merely due to “preparation overload.”

CNN host Dana Bash opened her interview with Pelosi by citing a poll showing that 72% of Americans believe Biden is no longer mentally capable of holding office.


“Well, what do they think about the other guy?” Pelosi asked of voters. “Do they think that he has the integrity to be president after that performance? Let us not make a judgment about a presidency based on one debate.”

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“The fact is, the reaction to the lies of Donald Trump is something that… people are focusing on, and to have a debate where you have to spend half your time negating what he said because he knows nothing about the truth,” she added. “On one side of the screen you have integrity and on one side you have dishonesty.”

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Clyburn, who was the House assistant Democratic leader until last year, also brushed off Biden’s embarrassing debate in his interview with Bash, saying he has full confidence that Biden can both beat Trump in November and serve as the leader of the free world for four more years.

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“I do not believe that Joe Biden has a problem leading for the next four years, because he’s done a great job of leading for the past three years,” he said. “Joe Biden should continue to run on his record.”

Clyburn went on to acknowledge that Biden had a “bad performance” on Thursday, but offered his own explanation for why it happened.

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“I’ve been around these things. I’ve been a part of debate preparation before, and I know when I see what I call preparation overload,” he said. “That’s exactly what was going on the other night. I saw Joe Biden grappling for words and phrases and even numbers that he was loaded up with. But today he arrived in North Carolina, he was freewheeling and he captivated the audience.”

Biden has faced growing calls to drop out of the presidential race after his performance on Thursday. The New York Times editorial board argued that him staying in the race would be a “reckless gamble.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial board made a similar argument, calling on Biden to drop out “for the good of the nation.”

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So far, the formal pressure on Biden to drop out has all been external, however. Like Pelosi and Clyburn, top Democrats in Congress and across the country remain publicly supportive of his presidential bid.

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