Joe Biden said he “messed up badly” during his debate with Donald Trump but insisted he will continue his re-election bid despite mounting pressure to drop out.

“I had a bad night,” Biden told a local radio station in Wisconsin in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday morning. “And the truth is, you know, I messed up. I made a mistake.”

The US president added that he was “determined to win this election”, repeating a phrase he has used frequently since last week’s disastrous debate: “When you get knocked down, you just get back up again.”

At an Independence Day celebration at the White House later Thursday, a supporter shouted at Biden to “keep fighting.” The president responded: “You got me, man. I’m not going anywhere.”

The Wisconsin interview marked the start of Biden’s new effort to quell a backlash against his candidacy within his own Democratic Party, with lawmakers, party operatives and influential donors fearing the 81-year-old president is unfit to take on Trump or serve another four years in the White House.

Biden is heading into a pivotal weekend for his campaign, with a stop in the battleground state of Wisconsin on Friday and a national television interview with ABC News that night. He will travel to another key state, Pennsylvania, on Sunday.

Biden has reportedly quietly acknowledged to some of his closest allies that he cannot afford to make mistakes in either appearance if he wants to regain the trust of his party.

But The New York Times reported Thursday that the president told Democratic governors at an emergency White House meeting Wednesday that he needed to get more sleep and work fewer hours, including avoiding events after 8 p.m.

Responding to a question from a governor about his health, Biden said he was fine, adding: “It’s just my brain.” Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon confirmed the comment but said the president was “clearly making a joke and then he said ‘all jokes aside.’”

A senior Biden campaign spokesperson later released a separate statement: “President Bush went to bed at 9, and President [Barack] Obama ate dinner at 6:30 p.m. Normal presidents find a balance, and so does Joe Biden. It’s not nearly as rigorous as Donald Trump, who spends half his day ranting on Truth Social about plans that would cause a recession and the other half playing golf,” the statement said, without specifying which president Bush.

Governors Tim Walz of Minnesota, Wes Moore of Maryland and Kathy Hochul of New York told reporters at the White House after the meeting that they stood with Biden and that the president was “fit for office.”

Before leaving for Wisconsin, the president is expected to spend Thursday at the White House with close family and then host a July 4 celebration for military members and veterans. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden, have both encouraged the president to stay in the race.

The holiday comes after a dramatic day for the president, with members of his own party calling for him to drop out of the race against Trump and several opinion polls released Wednesday showing a sharp drop in support after the debate, leaving him trailing his Republican rival.

Several House Democrats are drafting a joint letter calling on the president to end his reelection bid, two people familiar with the matter said.

Walz, Hochul and Moore weren’t the only governors to praise Biden on Wednesday. Several others, including California’s Gavin Newsom and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, posted statements of support on the social media site X.

Newsom and Whitmer remain donor favorites to replace Biden. Party insiders also believe the president would support his vice president, Kamala Harris, if he decides to drop out of the race.

Harris, 59, suffered from low approval ratings as vice president, but opinion polls since the debate suggest she would have performed better than Biden against Trump.

The vice president told White House staff in a call Wednesday that she was supporting Biden. “We will not back down. We will follow the leadership of our president. We will fight and we will win.”

Trump and his top advisers, who have kept a low profile since last week’s debate, have signaled they expect Harris to replace Biden on the Democratic ticket.

Trump was secretly recorded at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, telling people he thought Biden would “drop out.” In the video, which went viral on Wednesday night, he added: “That means we’re going to have Kamala… She’s so bad. She’s so pathetic. She’s so bad.”

Via Financial Times.


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