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.

  • The explanations come as pressure grows 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 he “nearly fell asleep on stage.”

Speaking to donors at a fundraising event in Virginia on Tuesday, Biden added that he “wasn’t very smart” about how he used his 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 campaign put out days ago.

On debate night, a Biden campaign source told The Wall Street Journal that Biden had a cold going into the debate night.

And the Biden camp’s explanations don’t end there.

Multiple media reports indicate that the blame game continues behind the scenes, with several parties speculating that Biden’s top aides failed to prepare him for the 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 the three aides — all of whom helped train Biden for the CNN debate — for not preparing him well enough to go on the offensive.

The Biden blame game

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

On that front, the Biden camp has admitted the obvious: The president is old.

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

At a post-debate campaign event in North Carolina on Friday, Biden himself said, “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.

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

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 are 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 as potential Biden replacements, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

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

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