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Biden appeals to donors as concerns persist in debate

RED BANK, N.J. (AP) — President Joe Biden wanted to return to his old strength and assured donors at a fundraiser on Saturday that he was up to the challenge of defeating Donald Trump.

“I didn’t have a great night, but I’m going to fight harder,” Biden told those present at the home of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Donald Trump is a real threat to the nation,” he stressed, saying his predecessor would undermine democracy if he returned to the White House and his economic policy ideas would worsen inflation.

The 81-year-old’s troubling performance at the first presidential debate on Thursday rattled many Democrats who view Trump as an existential threat to US democracy following the insurrection on January 6, 2021. Biden’s rambling answers and his struggle to respond to Trump prompted the New York Times editorial board to declare on Friday that he should drop out of the race and that remaining in the race would be a “reckless gamble”.

Biden and his wife, Jill, attended a campaign rally in the afternoon in East Hampton, New York, a beach town on Long Island where real estate company Zillow puts the average price of a home at $1.9 million. According to official records, the event, which was closed to the media, was held at the home of Avram Glazer, an owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.

The couple then attended a second event in East Hampton at the home of investor Barry Rosenstein, whose wife Lizanne said the president was “a role model of what it means to get knocked down over and over again and get back up again.”

“We can waste our time comparing debate nights,” she continued. “But you know what? It makes more sense to compare presidencies.”

In his speech to the crowd, Biden attacked Trump for his record as president, including his treatment of veterans, and said of Thursday night’s debate: “I did not have a good night, but neither did Trump.”

Biden claimed that the poll results he had showed that Democrats had the advantage after the debate. “The most important thing was his lies,” he said.

Following Thursday night’s debate, Biden showed even more enthusiasm in speeches in North Carolina and New York on Friday, saying he believed “with all his heart and soul” that he could do the job of president.

The Biden team said it raised more than $27 million on Thursday and Friday, including $3 million at a fundraiser in New York City focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

Jill Biden told her supporters on Friday that he told her after the debate, “You know, Jill, I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t feeling so good.” The first lady then said she responded to him, “Listen, Joe, we’re not going to let 90 minutes define the four years you spent as president.”

The Democratic president has yet to allay the fears sparked by the debate, which entered the public consciousness as clips and memes spread online and public pressure put him out of the race.

Democratic donors in New York, Southern California and Silicon Valley privately expressed deep concern about Biden’s campaign’s prospects for success following Biden’s performance in the debate.

In a series of text message chains and private conversations, they discussed a shortlist of possible successors, which included Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris.

But there was no formal move Friday to urge Biden to resign, and some suspected such a move would never happen given the logistical challenges involved in replacing the likely nominee just four months before Election Day.

Some donors said they would pause their personal donations, saying proceeds from Biden’s weekend fundraiser would almost certainly be high because tickets were sold and paid for before the debate.


Peoples reported from New York.

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