Biden plans to meet with Democratic governors and look to shore up support after shaky debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has invited Democratic governors to meet on Wednesday, as he attempts to solidify support among his party's top leaders after last week's shaky debate performance.

The discussion is likely to be mostly virtual, according to two people familiar with Biden's plan, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss a schedule that hasn't yet been made public. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would speak with Democratic governors and also hold calls with party leaders in Congress.

The meeting comes after Democratic governors held their own call previously and asked Biden to speak with them, according to three people with knowledge of the president's schedule.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, said that on the previous call, governors spoke to “what was obviously a poor performance” in the debate with participants “asking questions about, what is the plan?”

Waltz said he expects Wednesday’s meeting to address “some of the same concerns.”

The discussion with governors and Democratic congressional leaders is the strongest indication yet that Biden is attempting to calm fears among some Democrats, who worry he may not be up to continuing a campaign — much less defeat Donald Trump — following his sometimes raspy and halting performance during last week's debate in Atlanta.

Biden denounced the Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity on Monday night but had otherwise announced a largely politics-free and business-as-usual postdebate schedule — including planning to host July 4 celebrations at the White House for Thursday’s holiday.

Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett called Tuesday for Biden to formally withdraw from the race, and that followed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying on MSNBC that it is fair to ask whether Biden's debate showing was an anomaly or part of a larger pattern.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition," Pelosi said.

There is also no indication that the president is seriously considering stepping aside.

His campaign has downplayed the president’s political problems in a series of memos and private meetings with donors, strategists and party insiders, insisting that Biden can put the bad debate performance behind him without hurting his long-term chances in November.

Not all of the party's governors are expected to take part in the gathering. In Kansas, the office of Gov. Laura Kelly, who has broken with Biden in the past, particularly over COVID-19 vaccine mandates, would not say whether she would participate. Spokesperson Grace Hoge deferred to a statement Kelly issued Friday, after the president debate, calling Biden “a decent man of strong character” and saying that the governor "will support him in November.”


Associated Press writer John Hanna contributed from Topeka, Kansas.