Democratic governors to President Biden: 'Path to victory is the No. 1 priority' (2024)

WASHINGTON − Twenty-four Democratic governors met with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday evening seeking assurance that Biden can survive the fallout from his disastrous debate performance to beat Donald Trump in the fall.

But while several governors said afterward that they "have his back," they also stressed their top goal is finding a "path to win."

Instead of displaying a clear, unanimous front behind Biden after the meeting, only three of the 10 governors who met with Biden in person at the White House left the West Wing together to address a large gaggle of reporters.

"The governors have his back, and we're working together just to make it very, very clear on that − a path to victory in November is the No. 1 priority, and that's the No. 1 priority for the president," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

The Democratic Governors Association asked for the meeting with Biden after members raised concerns not just about Biden's debate performance but also the campaign's response to it.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who also spoke briefly with reporters, called the conversation "honest" and "candid."

Democratic governors to President Biden: 'Path to victory is the No. 1 priority' (1)

"When you love someone, you tell them the truth," Moore said, adding that the governors were honest about the concerns they've been hearing from other Democrats since Biden's debate against Trump. "As the president continued to tell us and show us that he's all in, we told him that we would stand with him.

"The president has always had our backs, we are going to have his back as well. Because the results that we've been able to see under this administration have been undeniable."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, the third governor to speak to reporters, gave a clear endorsem*nt of moving forward with Biden as the Democratic nominee.

"I'm hear to tell you today: President Joe Biden is in it today to win, and all of us said we pledged our support to him because the stakes could not be higher," Hochul said. "We feel very confident in his abilities."

Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gavin Newsom of California, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Andy Beshear of Kentucky were among the governors who met with Biden at the White House but did not speak to reporters.

"I heard three words from the President tonight - he’s all in. And so am I," Newsom said in a statement on X shortly after the meeting. "Joe Biden's had our back. Now it’s time to have his."

Others who attended in person were Govs. John Carney of Delaware, Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Dan McKee of Rhode Island. Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser also attended.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, among the 14 governors who attended the meeting virtually, reaffirmed his support for Biden after the meeting in a post on social media.

"Donald Trump is an existential threat to our democracy, and everyone in the room agreed that defeating him is imperative," Cooper said. "President Biden told us he is definitely running for re-election, he is our nominee and we'll continue doing everything we can to deliver North Carolina for him."

Democratic governors to President Biden: 'Path to victory is the No. 1 priority' (2)

In a statement after the meeting, the Biden campaign said, "All participants reiterated their shared commitment to do everything possible to make sure President Biden and Vice President Harris beat Donald Trump in November."

The White House and Biden campaign have spent the week trying to contain the damage from Biden's debate debacle. Biden could not complete thoughts and finish sentences throughout the debate, alarming Democrats and igniting a growing number of calls that he bow out of the race.

Biden told his team during a conference call earlier Wednesday that he wouldn't be withdrawing. "No one's pushing me out. I'm not leaving. I'm in this race to the end," he said.

But many Democrats and Biden allies have started to acknowledge that the president must prove his fitness in the coming days or risk being so politically damaged that he has little choice but to step aside.

Walz, responding to a question from a reporter, said he believes Biden is fit for office.

"None of us are denying Thursday night was a bad performance," Walz said. "It was a bad hit, if you will, on that, but it doesn't impact what I believe, that he's delivering."

Moore said Democratic governors know there's work to do to beat Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

"We know that, as we're standing right here, we're behind," he said. "But we also know that path to be able to make sure that we can pull ahead in November is real, and it's going to take all of us in order to make it happen."

Reach Joey Garrison on X @joeygarrison.

Democratic governors to President Biden: 'Path to victory is the No. 1 priority' (2024)


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