© 2024 Allbritton Journalism Institute

Biden Is Digging In

“I am running,” the president said on MSNBC Monday morning.

Election 2024 Biden AP-24189778008521
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Joe Biden is lashing out at Democrats who have called on him to end his reelection campaign, insisting that he’s the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump and that anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

On Monday, the president sent a letter to congressional Democrats declaring that he’s not backing down from the race — and that he wants the talk of him withdrawing to stop. He also called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in hopes of solidifying support as lawmakers come back to Washington.

In the letter sent to lawmakers and obtained by NOTUS, Biden said he’s “grateful for the rock-solid, steadfast support from so many elected Democrats in Congress and all across the country.”

“The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now,” he wrote. “And it’s time for it to end.”

Biden’s campaign for president is at a crossroads. A growing number of Democratic lawmakers have called — both publicly and privately — for Biden to step aside. Senior Democrats in the House had a conference call on Sunday where several said he should reevaluate his campaign.

As lawmakers return to town, one week before the start of the Republican National Convention, Biden knows he has to solidify support and divide his opposition. If Democratic lawmakers continue to call for him to step down, as is expected this week, it will be increasingly difficult for the president to remain the nominee. But if he can hang on for another week and make it to the convention, the attention may turn to Trump and Republicans in the race.

“I am not going to explain any more about what I should and shouldn’t do. I am running,” Biden said on “Morning Joe.”

Biden disregarded the elected Democrats and newspaper editorial boards that have called on him to step aside, insisting that he knows what they don’t. “I don’t care what those big names think,” he said. “They’re wrong in 2020. They’re wrong in 2022 about the red wave. They’re wrong in 2024. Come out with me, watch me react; you make a judgment.”

“I’m getting so frustrated by the elites — now I’m not talking about you guys — but by the elites in the party who they know so much more,” he said on MSNBC. “If any of these guys don’t think I should run, run against me. Announce for president. Challenge me at the convention.”

He referenced his past challenger — Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips — in his letter to lawmakers, noting that one primary candidate “attacked me for being too old and was soundly defeated.”

Biden had a similarly defiant message over the weekend in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, two states crucial to his 2020 victory.

In Pennsylvania on Sunday, Biden was joined by Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman — the former a longtime ally and the latter one of the most vocal for Biden since the debate.

Biden said on MSNBC that those campaign trips gave him the confidence that he was right and that so-called elite opinion was misguided.

“So what I did was, I went out and I wanted to make sure there wasn’t any slippage at all, with the average voter,” he said Monday morning. “I don’t care what the millionaires think.”

But compared to the friendly crowds of allies on the campaign trail, Democrats on the Hill are split on Biden. In the letter, Biden emphasized an intraparty spat would only hurt the party and help Trump.

“Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party and defeat Donald Trump,” he said.

Katherine Swartz is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.