Newsom Defends Biden Over Debate: 'You Don't Turn Your Back Because Of 1 Performance'

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday stood by President Joe Biden despite mounting concern within the party about his performance at the CNN debate.

During the 90-minute debate in Atlanta, Georgia, Biden gave rambling answers and appeared weak as he let former President Donald Trump’s lies about a whole host of issues, including the economy and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, go unchallenged.

But Newsom, who was once considered a front-runner for the 2024 Democratic nomination in the event that Biden chose not to run for re-election, said the panic setting in among Democrats is “unhelpful” and “unnecessary.”

“We’ve got to go in, we’ve got to keep our head high and as I say, we’ve got to have the back of this president,” Newsom told MSNBC’s Alex Wagner. “You don’t turn your back because of one performance. What kind of party does that?”

Still, many people in the party feel like Biden failed to quell voters’ concerns about his age and his fitness to serve at a critical point in the campaign cycle as polls show him and Trump tied in a dead heat race, with some privately hoping he will choose to drop out and allow a younger candidate to take over the Democratic ticket.

At 81, Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history and would be 86 by the end of a potential second term.

“Biden had one thing he had to do tonight and he didn’t do it,” former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told MSNBC. “He had one thing he had to accomplish and that was reassure America that he was up to the job at his age and he failed at that.”

Newsom, though, chose to instead focus on Biden’s record in office, saying his presidency has been a “masterclass.”

“This president has delivered,” the governor said. “We need to deliver for him at this moment.”

The California Democrat added that the ongoing chatter about Biden does not serve American democracy at a time when the world is looking to the U.S. for leadership.

“They need us right now to step up and that’s exactly what I intend to do,” Newsom added.


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