'Painful' Biden debate performance sends Democrats into 'a very aggressive panic:' CNN panel

CNN analysts discussed growing panic surrounding President Biden in the immediate aftermath of his “dismal” performance in Thursday’s debate against former President Donald Trump.

“This was a game-changing debate in the sense that right now, as we speak, there is a deep, a wide and a very aggressive panic in the Democratic Party. It started minutes into the debate and it continues right now,” CNN host John King said.

He continued, “It involves party strategists, it involves elected officials, it involves fundraisers. And they‘re having conversations about the president’s performance, which they think was dismal, which they think will hurt other people down the party in the ticket, and they‘re having conversations about what they should do about it.”

King added, “Some of those conversations include, ‘Should we go to the White House and ask the president to step aside?’ Other conversations are about, should prominent Democrats go public with that call? But because they feel this debate was so terrible…they do say in moments in the debate later, the president got better and got his footing, but then at the end, even his closing statement was a little halting, the contrast between the two candidates.”

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While King said he believes some Republicans “don’t think Donald Trump had a great night,” there are more notable concerns over Biden.

“I can tell you, it started minutes in, it started with the first couple of answers and it has continued throughout the night from ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God, Oh, my God’ to ‘What do we do about this?’ And it involves very senior people in the Democratic Party, including elected officials saying, ‘We have a problem,’” King said.

“The panic that I am hearing from Democrats is not like anything that I have heard in this campaign so far,” CNN host Abby Phillip concurred.

Former Obama advisor David Axelrod remarked, “There is a feeling, I think there was a sense of shock, actually, how he came out at the beginning of this debate, how his voice sounded. He seemed a little disoriented. He did get stronger as the debate went on, but by that time, I think the panic had set in, and I think you‘re going to hear discussions that, I don‘t know will lead to anything, but you know, there is going to be discussion about whether he should continue.”

Former Biden White House communications Kate Bedingfield emphasized that Trump also had a terrible display but acknowledged Biden had an “atypically bad night.”

“It was a really disappointing debate performance from Joe Biden. I don‘t think there‘s any other way to slice it. His biggest issue that he had to prove to the American people he had the energy, he had the stamina, and he didn‘t do that. And so, I think that is of concern and I think for a lot of Democrats it‘s very, very disappointing,” Bedingfield said.

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CNN political commentator and former Obama adviser Van Jones seemed close to tears at Biden’s performance.

“I just want to speak for my heart. I love that guy. He’s a good man. He loves his country. He‘s doing the best that he can, but he had a test to meet tonight to restore confidence of the country and of the base. And he failed to do that. And I think there‘s a lot of people who are going to want to see him consider taking a different course now,” he said.

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He continued, “We‘re still far from our convention, and there is time for this party to figure out a different way forward, if he will allow us to do that. But that was not what we needed from Joe Biden, and it’s personally painful for a lot of people. It‘s not just panic, it’s pain of what we saw tonight.”

CNN commentator Alyssa Farah Griffin said, “If I may just add to that, I think Joe Biden lost it in the first three minutes. I think a lot of voters probably tuned out and millions of people are having conversations with their families, with their friends of if the president is up to the task and if he should step aside.”

“You cannot tell me democracy is on the line and then give that performance tonight. If based on that, in 18 weeks, Donald Trump will be the president-elect,” she summarized.

CNN contributor Scott Jennings was more critical of the Democratic Party, saying the debate “confirmed everybody’s fear” about Biden’s senility and the party’s denial.

“When we came on before this debate, I said I thought this candidacy was teetering, and everybody jumped on me,” Jennings began.

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“The candidacy has fallen, okay? I know you‘re speaking from your heart; I‘m worried about the president. We should pray for the president. I think his advisers, I think the White House and I think his family have a lot of explaining to do to their party and to the American people this night. One night was caused by and asked for by the Biden team. They wanted this night and this is what we got,” he continued.

“We‘ve been told for weeks, weeks by Democrats who say, ‘Oh, in private meetings, I‘ve seen Joe Biden do cartwheels and hand stands while doing trigonometry, while solving all the nation‘s problems.’ We now know that every single person who said that has been lying to the American people,” Jennings said.

“Everything we‘ve been told about his mental acuity by these Democrats has been a lie and everything we think we knew has been confirmed,” he added.

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