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Crisis mood among US Democrats

After US President Biden's disastrous performance in the TV debate against his challenger Trump, US Democrats are unsettled. Biden tries to explain himself and emphasizes once again that he wants to continue.

US President Joe Biden has blamed fatigue after international travel for his weak performance in the first TV debate before the presidential election. It was not very smart to “travel around the world several times” shortly before the duel, said Biden. “I did not listen to my staff (…) and then I almost fell asleep on stage.” It was “not an excuse, but an explanation.”

Biden – at 81 years old, the oldest president in US history – had spoken in a hoarse voice during the TV debate with his likely challenger Donald Trump on CNN, repeatedly getting tangled up in his formulations and leaving sentences unfinished.

Biden wants to “open a new chapter”

Biden's spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the president had no intention of giving up and now wanted to “open a new chapter.” He had a cold during the debate and had a “bad evening.” Jean-Pierre rejected calls for the president to undergo a cognitive test or release additional information about his health.

When asked if Biden had a degenerative disease or dementia, Jean-Pierre replied, “No,” adding, referring to the 78-year-old Trump, “I hope you ask the other guy the same question.” Trump had asked Biden to take a cognitive test, but then confused who had tested him.

MP speaks out against Biden

In recent days, Democrats from the back rows have publicly called for a change in personnel, but the party's best-known faces have so far refrained from harsh criticism. However, this is the first time that a Democrat from the House of Representatives has openly called on the US president not to run for re-election.

“Unlike Trump, Biden has always been committed to our country and not to himself,” US media quoted Texas politician Lloyd Doggett as saying. “I hope he will make the painful and difficult decision to retire.” Doggett's parliamentary colleague Jared Golden wrote in a newspaper article that he had been expecting Trump to win the election for some time.

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi credited Biden with “judgment and strategic thinking” on US broadcaster MSNBC. When asked, the Democrat admitted that it was a “legitimate question” whether his blunder was “just an episode or a state of affairs.” Pelosi stressed that it was difficult to debate with Trump because the Republican ex-president constantly lies. Both candidates must be subjected to equally critical scrutiny when it comes to the question of their suitability for the presidency.

“Nobody wants to be the first to stab Julius Caesar”

The US President now apparently wants to make people forget his appearance in the TV debate with a series of public appearances. According to his spokeswoman Jean-Pierre, a meeting with governors and top Democratic parliamentarians is planned today, and Biden will give a TV interview at the end of the week. Next week he will hold a press conference at the NATO summit and travel to Wisconsin and Philadelphia.

The US broadcaster CBS reported that Biden was meeting with the governors and parliamentarians to secure their support. CNN had previously reported, citing people familiar with the situation, that several governors had spoken to each other on the phone at the beginning of the week to seek such a meeting. According to a report in the Washington Post, Senator Joe Manchin threatened to publicly break with Biden after the TV debate.

Manchin, who is known as a troublemaker, recently turned his back on the Democrats, but as an independent senator he continues to vote with his former party on many issues. According to the report, Manchin changed his confrontational course at the urging of the Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, among others. The newspaper quoted an unnamed Democratic Party official as saying: “Nobody wants to be the first to stab Julius Caesar.”

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