President Joe Biden’s press conference on Thursday has sent shockwaves throughout the Democratic Party, with several top officials reportedly saying on background that the event was an unmitigated disaster for the 81-year-old.
Biden held the press conference after Special Counsel Robert Hur released the findings from his criminal investigation into Biden’s handling of classified material which concluded that, while Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials,” no charges should be brought.
One of the top reasons that Hur argued that charges should not be brought was that Biden showed strong signs of having serious memory issues — including not remembering when his son died or when he served as vice president in the Obama administration. Hur concluded that a jury would view Biden as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Biden decided to hold a press conference late Thursday night in response to the report.
During the event, Biden exploded at reporters who pointed out voters’ concerns about his age and declared that he was the most qualified person in America to be president. During the event, Biden mixed up the presidents of Egypt and Mexico, forgot the name of the church where his deceased son got the rosary that he wears every day, and forgot key details from the special counsel’s report.
The reaction from Democrats was mixed, with some rushing to Biden’s defense while several others, most of them privately, signaled that Biden’s press conference did serious damage to his re-election campaign.
Longtime Democrat strategist and former Clinton White House aide Paul Begala said on CNN: “Look, I’m a Biden supporter. And I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every two hours crying and wet the bed.”
CNN's Paul Begala on Joe Biden's press conference performance:
"I slept like a baby last night. I woke up every 2 hours & wet the bed. This is terrible for Democrats…"
Begala then takes a shot at Biden for not knowing when he was vice president.pic.twitter.com/ttKJfVuSgo
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 9, 2024
A Democrat House member, speaking anonymously, told NBC News that the special counsel’s assessment was a “nightmare” that “weakens President Biden electorally.”
“For Democrats, we’re in a grim situation,” the member said.
A Democrat operative also told NBC News that yesterday’s events were “beyond devastating”, adding: “It confirms every doubt and concern that voters have. If the only reason they didn’t charge him is because he’s too old to be charged, then how can he be president of the United States?”
Another Biden ally told the publication that it was the “worst day of his presidency.”
A Democrat strategist said in an interview with The Dispatch that the report from Hur, combined with Biden’s disastrous press conference, was “worse than an indictment,” while another called it “extremely bad.”
Axios reported that many senior Democrats were alarmed by Biden’s press conference, including a former Biden White House official who called it “brutal.”
Another former Biden official said, “Taking the nomination away from Biden is like taking the car keys away from your parents.”