Elected and Party Officials React to Last Night’s Debate and Biden’s Poor Performance

June 28, 2024
3 mins read

Sen. Raphael Warnock praises President Joe Biden’s debate performance in the spin room at the McCamish Pavilion. Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder.

Democrats at Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion faced a crowd of dozens of reporters from around the world shouting questions about Biden’s debate performance and whether he should remain the party’s candidate.

Speaking to reporters in the spin room, Sen. Raphael Warnock said Trump’s performance was full of lies and demonstrated that he does not care about average Americans.

“A lot of people can’t get work if they don’t have childcare. He didn’t have an answer for that. He tried to take credit for capping the cost of insulin and prescription drugs. Well, I know that’s a lie because that’s my bill,” Warnock said. “I passed it. And Joe Biden signed it into law. When it came to anything happening to ordinary people, he reminded us that this man wants to do the only thing that he’s ever done, and that’s focus on people like himself.”

Warnock and the other Biden campaign surrogates, including Texas Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, left the spin room after being pressed on Biden’s performance, leaving mostly Trump supporters to speak to the press. They did so gleefully.

“People who have not made up their mind, if you were watching this debate, you’re voting for Donald Trump,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina and a rumored prospective vice president for Trump. “It was one of the greatest contrasts between two politicians I’ve ever seen in my life. The dominance of Donald Trump is undeniable.”

“I think at the end of this, we’re going to have to identify Joe Biden by his dental records,” said Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz.

State Rep. David Wilkerson, a Powder Springs Democrat, told reporters traveling with Biden that Trump uttered falsehoods and dodged questions through the debate.

“I think it’s all going to come down to do people prefer policies over personalities. If people want policies, they’re going to vote for Biden.”

Wilkerson said he is not worried by Trump’s performance

“I think what this does is it lets people know that if they like the policies that Biden has, they need to step up their game,” he said. “So if anything, I think people are going to leave this room and then realize if we don’t do something, that we could potentially have the same guy we had four years ago that put us back in the same place we’re at.”

“So I’m the reverse,” he added. “I have been doing this a long time. I think this might energize us.”

While the elected Democrats sounded an optimistic tone, Christopher Bruce, a political strategist and Policy Director for the ACLU of Georgia said the party should consider another candidate to lead the ticket.

“America has a quandary, I want to be perfectly clear about that. America does not feel comfortable with either candidate. Where does the Democratic Party go from here? We’ll see in Chicago,” he said, referencing the Democratic National Convention scheduled for August, in which members of the party are set to pick their nominee.

Newsom, sometimes listed as a top contender for the job if Biden were to not run, said he is not considering it,

“I would never turn my back on President Biden. Never turn my back on President Biden,” he said. “I don’t know a Democrat in my party that would do so. And especially after tonight, we have his back. We run not the 90 -yard dash. We’re all in. We’re going to double down in the next few months.”

At the Democratic watch party at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta, where Biden went immediately after the debate, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens attempted to downplay calls for a replacement on the ballot.

“Democrats have to ride with who we’re with right now because Joe Biden has earned the respect of the American public and has earned the respect of Democrats. We don’t shift the horse mid-race. So I think there may be a small few who are talking about changing but we stick with where we are right now.”

Candidates met by protests, supporters

Biden was greeted by Dickens, Stacey Abrams, Jason Carter and other prominent Georgia Democrats who stood on the tarmac at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta. He shook hands and briefly chatted with each person but did not respond to questions shouted at him by the press pool about how he was feeling ahead of the debate.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden dropped by a Waffle House in Atlanta to pick up food shortly after midnight. He told reporters “I think we did well” when asked about his debate performance. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

Biden was immediately met with a small gathering of Trump supporters as his motorcade left Dobbins. He then briefly stopped to chat with dozens of supporters who gathered outside of Truist Plaza in downtown Atlanta and chanted “four more years” and “let’s go, Joe.”

Trump was welcomed by supporters on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Supporters of both candidates could be seen along the motorcade route, with gatherings of both swelling downtown as the debate kick-off neared. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators also gathered in midtown, with organizers saying they are protesting both candidates.

After the debate, Biden and First Lady Jill Biden dropped by a Waffle House in Atlanta to pick up food shortly after midnight. He told reporters “I think we did well” when asked about his debate performance.

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