US Media Criticizes Biden’s Debate Performance

The question now is who among serving Democrats would go public and tell the president to drop out of the race, according to one news outlet

US President Joe Biden is likely to face increased pressure to end his reelection campaign after his performance in his first debate of the year with Donald Trump, according to various US media sources.

The debate, hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday night, was the first of two planned debates between the presumptive candidates from the main US political parties. It took place unusually early in the election cycle, two months before the Democratic National Convention, where Biden’s nomination is expected to be confirmed.

The Biden campaign reportedly influenced the organizers to adopt a format they believed would be beneficial to their candidate. There was no audience, strict time limitations were imposed for speakers, and a microphone mute feature was added to prevent Trump and Biden from interrupting each other as they did in 2020.

Observers generally agree that Biden “had it rough”

The President offered ‘limited resistance’ to Trump

It was a “night of stumbles and falsehoods”, The New York Times declared after the debate ended. The most noticeable contrast between the two candidates was in their delivery, with a hoarse-voiced Biden “meandering and mumbling through answers as the former president pressed his case for a second term with limited resistance from his rival.”

Trump was delivering his usual “exaggerations and embellishments” while Biden missed several opportunities to fact-check him – a task that CNN insisted should fall on the candidates, not the moderators. The Republican “often filled the vacuum with a torrent of exaggerations, falsehoods and attacks” on his opponent.

One of Biden’s biggest weaknesses is voters’ concern over his age and mental acuity, and the 81-year-old only exacerbated those concerns, NYT said. He made a bad impression not only when he spoke, but also when he remained silent, as CNN showed both politicians in a split screen.

”For long intervals he stood silent, eyes darting, mouth agape,” while Trump, in contrast, “grinned attentively and waited for his chance to attack.”

Debate focused on Biden

Biden’s performance on Thursday contrasted sharply with his energetic delivery of the State of the Union address in March, The Washington Post said.

”Jousting with an opponent at a debate – rather than giving a scripted speech – is a different animal,” the newspaper said.

The animosity between the candidates was palpable on the stage, and Biden, who is presented by Democrats as a champion of normalcy and decorum, resorted to name-calling his opponent on multiple occasions. He branded Trump a “whiner”, “loser”, “sucker” and “a child,” and also said the former president had the morals of “an alley cat.”

Biden’s campaign hopes to turn the 2024 election into a referendum on Trump, but “much of the debate wound up focusing on Biden,” the Post said. The format did not help, but “many of the problems traced to the candidates themselves.”

Candidate swap?

Even Biden’s running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris, acknowledged to CNN that the president had “a slow start” before declaring that in November voters will have to choose between a Democratic nominee and the “destruction of democracy.”

A proposal to replace Biden with another candidate gained more traction due to his poor performance, according to the media.

A major Democratic donor quoted by Politico described the night as “the worst performance in history” and said Biden was so “bad that no one will pay attention to Trump’s lies.” The donor urged him to end his campaign. Another one texted: “Time for an open convention.”

A former Biden White House official told Axios: “It’s sad but it also makes me so mad to think of all the smart people lying and trying to make this work,” referring to the Biden campaign.

“The question for the next 72 hours or so is how many Democrats will go public with their concerns – especially those in elected office,” the outlet said.

‘Can’t be real life!’

Some reactions were closer to the ‘plague on both houses’ line. Doug Muzzio, a retired public affairs professor, told The New York Post that the night was “a disaster for Biden”, while Trump was “clear and relatively coherent” and “even though he repeatedly lied, he lies in an articulate way.”

Comedian Jon Steward joked that Biden has disproved a “conspiracy theory” that his staffers pump him with drugs before public events.

”If those drugs don’t exist, if there aren’t actually performance-enhancing drugs for these candidates, I could sure f*****g use some recreational ones right now, because this cannot be real life! It just can’t!” the political gadfly said while concluding his show.