Biden doubles down at Wisconsin rally: 'I'm staying in the race'


President Joe Biden said Friday at a campaign rally in the key battleground state of Wisconsin that he’s staying in the 2024 presidential race and expressed confidence that he would beat former President Donald Trump, despite concerns about a disastrous debate performance last week.

“You probably heard that I had a little debate last week. Can’t say it is my best performance, but ever since then, there’s been a lot of speculation: ‘What’s Joe going to do? Is he going to stay in the race? Is he going to drop out, what’s he going to do?’ Well, here’s my answer. I am running and gonna win again,” Biden said in remarks in front of a cheering crowd of supporters in Madison, the state capital.

Biden said that people are trying to push him out of the race.

“Let me say it as clear as I can: I’m staying in the race!” Biden said. “I’ll beat Donald Trump.”

Biden initially misspoke and said he would beat Trump again in 2020, and then seemed to correct himself and said: “We’re going to do it again in 2024.”

“I learned long ago, when you get knocked down, you get back up,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t let a 90-minute debate erase his accomplishments over the last three-and-a-half years.

As Biden faces calls to drop out of the 2024 race, Democratic allies have said he must campaign more vigorously to prove he can carry out a second term. And party members and donors alike will be watching speeches like the one on Friday to evaluate Biden’s fitness for office.

At the beginning of the speech, Biden mocked Trump for his own verbal stumbles, noting Trump said on one Fourth of July when he was president that George Washington’s army won the Revolutionary War by taking control of airports from the British.

“They talk about me misspeaking,” Biden said. “Airports and the British in 1776. It’s true, he is a stable genius.”

Biden also directly confronted his age, which polling indicates is a top concern for voters as he seeks re-election.

“You think I’m too old to restore Roe v. Wade to all the land? You think I’m too old to ban assault weapons again? To protect Social Security and Medicare?” he asked in a series of call-and-response questions that the audience answered with a resounding, “No!”

His last question: “You think I’m too old to beat Donald Trump?”

As the audience shouted “No!” again, Biden added: “I can hardly wait.”

Now 81 years old, Biden would finish a second term at 86. Trump, 78, is nearly as old as Biden, but voters indicate in polls that they are more concerned about Biden’s age.

A New York Times/Siena poll conducted after the debate found that 74% of voters viewed Biden as too old for the job.

Throughout his remarks, Biden attacked Trump with lines he used during the debate and previous campaign events. He argued that the former president “has the morals of an alley cat” and is “a one-man crime wave.”

The Biden-Harris campaign billed the event as one in which the president would “underscore the stakes of this election for our democracy, our rights and freedoms, and our economy.” This marked his fifth trip to the state this year.

While he was in Madison, Biden sat for an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that’s scheduled to air at 8 p.m. ET Friday.

After the interview, Biden told reporters that he was “completely ruling that out” when asked whether he would drop out. He said that he was “positive” he could serve another four years, adding that he’s spoken with “at least 20” members of Congress who told him to stay in the race.

The president also said he was “committing now, absolutely” to debating Trump again. The second of two scheduled presidential debates is slated for September.

In the wake of Biden’s widely panned debate performance last week, the campaign made clear that it’s ramping up its general election activities throughout July, including an “aggressive travel schedule led by President Biden.

The day after the June 27 debate, Biden held a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the president was cheered on by an enthusiastic audience of supporters. Speaking more fiercely than he had during the debate, Biden told the crowd: “I know I’m not a young man. I don’t walk as easy as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know what I do know — I know how to tell the truth!”

This month, the president, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are scheduled to travel and campaign across the country, including every battleground state, to tout the administration’s accomplishments, the campaign said.

Biden will speak at the NAACP and UnidosUS conferences in Las Vegas as the Republican National Convention takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from July 15 to 18. Harris will speak Saturday at the 30th ESSENCE Festival of Culture in New Orleans, the campaign said.

The campaign said it’s also investing in a $50 million paid media blitz through the month, which will specifically target large audiences like those for the RNC and the 2024 Olympic Games, which begin on July 26.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com





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