Fear and Uncertainty: Vulnerable Democrats Dodge Questions on Biden’s Debate Performance


As President Joe Biden’s debate performance sparks concern among Democrats, many vulnerable Senate Democrats are sidestepping questions about his suitability as a leader. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Jon Tester (D-MT), facing competitive races this fall, are mum on the topic, their campaigns and offices refusing to comment or offering statements that deflect from the criticism.

One notable exception is Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), a longtime ally of Biden, who expressed public support for the president. “He had a bad night and debate, but I think people know what’s at stake,” Casey told reporters, before pivoting to other election issues.

However, his Republican opponent, David McCormick, was swift to respond, calling Biden “fit for neither office nor debate,” and criticizing Casey for defending him. Another Democrat, Sen. Jacky Rosen’s (D-NV), campaign, also avoided addressing the controversy, instead focusing on the presidential contest and highlighting Biden’s policy achievements.

Conservatives are already trying to exploit the situation, with Senate Republicans ramping up their criticism of Democrats. Ohio Senate candidate Bernie Moreno publicly rebuked Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reluctance to discuss the debate, while Montana Republican Tim Sheehy seized on a 2020 interview where Tester dismissed concerns about Biden’s cognitive abilities.

These moves are part of a larger strategy aimed at undermining the Democratic Party’s hold on Congress, with the hopes of retaking the Senate and the White House. The Biden campaign, meanwhile, attempted to spin his performance with an ad focusing on Trump’s perceived shortcomings and a message of resilience and determination.

As Democrats struggle to respond to Biden’s poor showing, their grip on Congress appears increasingly precarious, making November’s elections a battle for the very survival of the Democratic Party.

Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry is a Capitol Hill Reporter focusing on energy and environment. Previously, Ramsey covered Congress for Newsweek and was a multimedia reporter at a local NPR and PBS affiliate in Florida. A native of the Sunshine State, Ramsey graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism.

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