Biden tells campaign staffers he’s staying in the race : NPR

President Biden, seen here at a watch party in Atlanta, Ga. on June 27, told campaign staffers on Wednesday that he is staying in the presidential race.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

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Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told his campaign staffers on Wednesday that he is staying in the election race, one of a series of closed-door conversations he is having to try to reassure Democrats after last week’s disastrous debate led to calls for him to step down.

Biden and Vice President Harris joined a campaign all-staff meeting, a person on the call said, speaking on condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.

“I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win because when Democrats unite, we will always win,” Biden said, according to the source.

Harris, who has been seen a likely contender should Biden withdraw from the race, told staffers, “We will not back down. We will follow our president’s lead,” the source said.

Separately, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients held an all-staff call with White House staffers. He also acknowledged the tough times, and said it was important to focus on their work and support each other, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

Biden is blaming his debate performance on jet lag

Biden is under pressure from some in his party to withdraw from the presidential race after his hoarse voice and verbal stumbles during his debate with former President Donald Trump left Democrats collectively wringing their hands.

The White House has blamed it on a cold and a “bad night.” On Tuesday, Biden told donors that a punishing travel schedule through many time zones was to blame. He had gone to Europe twice in two weeks in June, and also spent time at a Los Angeles fundraiser.

Jean-Pierre said Biden spoke on Wednesday with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and has also held calls with Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, and Delaware Sen. Chris Coons.

Later on Wednesday, he will meet at the White House with more than 20 Democratic governors.

He will have a stream of events in coming days, including a trip to Wisconsin

Biden spent last weekend trying to persuade supporters that he could still do the job and a rally and fundraising events.

This week, he has a steady stream of events that will provide the public additional insight into whether the president can move past the headlines surrounding his debate performance.

He plans to celebrate the Fourth of July with service members and their family on the National Mall. On Friday, he will campaign in Wisconsin and give an interview to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. And next week, he hosts NATO leaders in Washington, where he will give a solo press conference.