Biden and the Democrats can't decide what to blame the disastrous debate on

  • First a cold, then bad prep, and now jet lag.

  • Biden‘s campaign has put forth a series of reasons trying to explain his bad debate performance.

  • This comes as pressure has grown for Biden to step aside and make way for a replacement.

President Joe Biden has offered a new explanation for his disastrous debate performance — jet lag.

Giving a reason for his incoherent sentences, slurring and vacant expression on the June 27 CNN debate with former President Donald Trump, Biden said that he “nearly fell asleep on stage.”

Speaking to donors at a fundraising event in Virginia on Tuesday, he added that he “wasn’t very smart” about his use of time before the debate. I decided to travel around the world a couple times, going through around 100 time zones,” Biden said.

He added: “It’s not an excuse but an explanation.”

Other reasons for his poor performance

The jet lag explanation, however, deviates from the one his own campaign put out days ago.

The Biden campaign source said that he was suffering from a cold during the debate. That Biden had a cold going into the big night, The Wall Street Journal reported, which did explain his hoarse voice and coughing.

But post-debate, Biden critics and supporters alike have been speculating on whether his advanced age might kill the Democratic ticket’s chances of winning in 2024.

And on that front, the Biden camp has been willing to admit the obvious — the president is old.

When asked at a White House press conference whether “Biden’s cognitive decline” was “an episode or a condition,” his press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that he was not a young man and “he’s a little slower than he used to be.”

Biden himself said at a post-debate campaign event in North Carolina on Friday: “Folks, I might not walk as easily or talk as smoothly as I used to. I might not debate as well as I used to.

“But what I do know is how to tell the truth,” he added.

The Biden blame game

Multiple media reports indicate that the blame game continues behind the scenes, with several parties speculating that Biden’s top aides failed to adequately prepare him for the big showdown with Trump.

His family has, behind closed doors, argued that the top aides who prepped Biden should be demoted or fired, per Politico. They pointed fingers at Biden’s senior advisor, Anita Dunn; her husband, Bob Bauer, Biden’s personal attorney; and Biden’s former chief of staff, Ron Klain.

Three anonymous sources told Politico that the Biden family criticized these three aides — all of whom helped train Biden for the CNN debate — for not preparing him well enough to go on the offensive.

Donors have also weighed in. Democratic megadonor John Morgon said Biden needs to eliminate his “cabal,” which includes Anita Dunn and Bob Bauer.

“I think he has misplaced trust in these three people, and I believe he has from the inception,” Morgan told Politico.

Another longtime Democratic donor, Whitney Tilson, wrote on X that he felt “deceived” by Biden’s poor showing.

If the man I saw at the debate is the real Joe Biden right now, then it would be a waste of my time and money to support him because he has almost no chance of beating Trump,” Tilson wrote.

Anxiety grows within the Democratic Party’s ranks

Despite the multiple reasons given for the debate performance, Democrats are getting anxious.

Elected Democrats previously loyal to Biden have raised fresh doubts about the president’s capabilities to run for a second term and are adding to the voices asking him to step aside.

A House Democratic aide told Reuters that 25 Democrats were preparing to call Biden to quit the race. Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett was the first of them, calling the president to step aside on Tuesday.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday also revealed anxiety in the party, with one in three Democrats saying Biden should quit the race in favor of a replacement.

Several names have been floated — including Vice President Kamala Harris, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and more.

Representatives for Biden didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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