Biden is making appeals to donors as concerns persist over debate performance

NEW YORK — President Joe Biden is looking to recapture his mojo and reassure donors at a Saturday fundraiser that he is fully up to the challenge of beating Donald Trump.

The 81-year-old’s troubling performance at the first presidential debate Thursday rattled many Democrats, who see Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection as an existential threat to U.S. democracy. Biden’s meandering answers and struggles to respond to Trump prompted The New York Times editorial board to declare Friday that he should exit the race and that staying in would be a “reckless gamble.”

Biden and his wife, Jill, attended an afternoon campaign event in East Hampton, New York, the Long Island beach town where the real estate firm Zillow prices the median home at $1.9 million. Based on public records, the event that was closed to the news media was at the home of Avram Glazer, an owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.

Scheduled later was an evening fundraiser in Red Bank, New Jersey.

In the aftermath of Thursday night’s debate, Biden flashed more vigor in speeches in North Carolina and New York on Friday, saying he believes with “all my heart and soul” that he can do the job of the presidency.

The Biden campaign said it has raised more than $27 million on Thursday and Friday, including $3 million at a New York City fundraiser focused on the LGBTQ+ community.

Jill Biden told supporters Friday that he said to her after the debate, “You know, Jill, I don’t know what happened. I didn’t feel that great.” The first lady then said she responded to him, “Look, Joe, we are not going to let 90 minutes define the four years that you’ve been president.”

The Democratic president still needs to allay the fears stirred by the debate as it seeped into the public conscience with clips and memes spreading on the internet and public pressure for him to bow out of the race.

Democratic donors across New York, Southern California and Silicon Valley privately expressed deep concerns about the viability of Biden’s campaign in the wake of his debate performance.

In a series of text message chains and private conversations, they discussed the short list of possible replacements, a group that included Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris.

But on Friday, there was no formal push to pressure Biden to step aside and some suspected there never would be given the logistical challenges associated with replacing the presumptive nominee just four months before Election Day.

Some donors noted they were going to pause their personal giving. They said receipts from Biden’s weekend fundraiser would almost certainly be strong because the tickets were sold and paid for before the debate.

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