Citing Supreme Court ruling, Trump demands release of imprisoned Jan. 6 rioters

RALEIGH, North Carolina: President Joe Biden said Friday he wants to defeat his Republican rival Donald Trump in November’s presidential election, but he showed no sign of considering dropping out of the race after his poor debate performance disappointed his Democratic colleagues.
“I know I’m not a young man anymore, that’s for sure,” an exuberant Biden said at a rally a day after a direct duel with his Republican rival that was widely seen as a defeat for the 81-year-old president.
“My walk isn’t as easy as it used to be, I don’t speak as fluently as I used to be, I can’t debate as well as I used to be,” he said as the crowd chanted “four more years.”

“But I know how to tell the truth. I know how to do this job,” he said to great cheers and vowed: “When you get knocked down, you get back up.”

“I wouldn’t run again if I didn’t believe with all my heart and soul that I can do this job. There’s too much at stake,” Biden said.

Biden had hoped to allay concerns about his advanced age and expose Trump as a notorious liar.
But the president failed to counter his boastful rival, who made a series of false and misleading claims on everything from the economy to immigration, without contradiction.
On Friday, Biden said the words that Democrats would have liked to hear in the televised debate.
“Did you see Trump last night? I guess he set – and I mean this seriously – a new record for the most lies in a single debate,” Biden said.
“Donald Trump is a real threat to this nation. He is a threat to our freedom. He is a threat to our democracy. He is literally a threat to everything America stands for.”

Biden’s verbal lapses and occasionally rambling answers in the debate heightened voters’ concerns that he may not be fit for another four-year term, leaving some of his fellow Democrats wondering whether they could replace him as their candidate for the November 5 US election.
Campaign spokesman Michael Tyler said there were no discussions about that possibility. “We’d rather have a bad night than a candidate with a poor vision of where he wants to take the country,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.
The campaign held an “all hands on deck” meeting Friday afternoon to reassure staff that Biden would not drop out of the race, according to two people familiar with the meeting.
Although Trump, 78, spread a number of falsehoods throughout the debate, the focus afterward was clearly on Biden, especially among Democrats.
Hakeem Jeffries, leader of the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, avoided answering directly when asked if he still believed in Biden’s candidacy.
“I support the electoral list. I support the Democratic majority in the Senate. We will do everything possible to win back the majority in the House in November. Thank you all,” he told reporters.
Other Democrats also expressed caution when asked whether Biden should stay in the race. “That’s the president’s decision,” Democratic Senator Jack Reed told a local television station in Rhode Island.

Obama speaks out
But several of the party’s highest-ranking figures, including former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said they would support Biden.
“There are bad debate nights sometimes. Believe me, I know that. But this election is still a choice between someone who has spent his entire life fighting for the common people and someone who only cares about himself,” former Democratic President Barack Obama wrote on X.

For the New York Times, however, Biden’s display of Democratic loyalty and defiance in North Carolina were not enough.
The New York Times editorial board, which endorsed Biden in 2020, called on him to drop out of the race to give the Democratic Party a better chance of defeating Trump by fielding another candidate. “The greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform is to announce that he will not seek re-election,” the editorial said.
A logical – though not automatic – candidate for Biden’s place would be his Vice President Kamala Harris, who loyally defended his performance during the debate.

The Biden team reported raising $14 million on Thursday and Friday, its best fundraising effort ever in the immediate aftermath of Thursday night’s debate. The Trump team reported raising $8 million on debate night.
A possible bright spot for Biden: Preliminary viewership numbers showed that only 48 million Americans watched the debate, far fewer than the 73 million who watched the candidates’ last meeting in 2020.
Biden, already the oldest American president in history, faced only token opposition during the party’s months-long nomination contest and yet was able to secure enough support to secure his place as the Democratic nominee.
Likewise, Trump defeated his intra-party challengers at the beginning of the year, paving the way for a long and bitter election campaign.
If Biden were to resign, the party would have less than two months to choose a new candidate at its convention, which begins Aug. 19. That would be a potentially chaotic process that could pit Kamala Harris, the nation’s first black vice president, against governors and other officials whose names are being discussed as possible successors.

Trump’s allies triumph
While the Democrats were in turmoil, Trump’s allies tried to exude calm and security.
US House Speaker Mike Johnson, a senior Republican, said it was clear that Biden was “not up to the task.”
“Donald Trump is the only man on the scene who is qualified and capable of serving as the next president,” he said. “The election cannot come soon enough.”
At an afternoon rally in Chesapeake, Virginia, Trump told his supporters that he had won a “great victory against a man who wants to destroy our country.”
“Joe Biden’s problem is not his age,” Trump said. “It’s his competence.”
Trump’s advisers said they believed the debate would improve their chances in Democratic-leaning states like Virginia, where no Republican presidential candidate has led since 2004.
In the run-up to the election, some Trump supporters said they were shocked by Biden’s poor performance. “I’m afraid they’ll replace him and put up someone more competitive,” said Mike Boatman, who said he has attended more than 90 Trump rallies.
Trump fundraisers said they have received enthusiastic calls from donors. “Anyone who raises money knows there comes a time when you have to reach out to donors, and this is one of those crucial moments,” said Ed McMullen, who served as ambassador to Switzerland during Trump’s presidency.
Doubts about Trump’s suitability for office have also been raised in connection with his conviction last month in New York for covering up the payment of hush money to a porn star, his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his chaotic time in office.
The verdict is scheduled for July 11, just days before his party meets to officially nominate him. He faces three other charges, but none of them are expected to go to trial before November.
Biden’s shaky debate performance sparked stunned reactions around the world on Friday and led to public calls for his resignation. Some of America’s closest allies are likely already preparing for Trump’s return.

A second debate is scheduled for September 10.

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