‘He’s playing defense.’ Gov. Lamont expressed concerns directly to Biden in private call

In a private phone call, Lamont told the president that he has deep concerns about Biden’s ability to win.

John Craven

Jul 9, 2024, 8:45 PM

Updated 5 days ago


Just one week after President Joe Biden’s widely criticized debate performance, which has some Democrats calling for him to drop out of the 2024 election, Gov. Ned Lamont’s phone rang.
It was Biden.
In a private phone call, Lamont told the president that he has deep concerns about Biden’s ability to win. The call came one day after Lamont and other Democratic governors vocally challenged Biden and his campaign staff in a conference call.
Biden is fighting for his political future, with Democrats divided over whether he should step aside for a younger – potentially more electable – candidate.
“He’s playing defense,” Lamont said Tuesday. “You don't win elections by playing defense.”
The governor said he expressed his concerns directly to the president in a one-on-one call last Thursday but did not ask Biden to drop out.
“That Stephanopoulos interview was 30 straight questions on mental fitness,” Lamont said. “Not one question about Donald Trump. Not one question about his moral fitness, not one question about what he wants to do to this country. And I don’t think we’re going to win an election if that’s what the conversation is for the next 3½ months.”
When asked if he sees Biden’s strategy changing, Lamont replied, “Not yet.”
Lamont is a fierce ally of Biden’s. The then-former vice president campaigned for Lamont in 2018 as he struggled against Republican Bob Stefanowski. Lamont returned the favor in 2020, becoming the first governor to publicly endorse Biden’s run for president.
But the governor isn’t ready to commit to Biden as the Democratic nominee, after he struggled to answer numerous questions during the June 27 debate.
“I think he’s just getting started when it comes to his agenda,” Lamont said. “I’ve had some personal conversations though, wondering who is the best person to carry on that Biden agenda.”
Despite his reservations, Lamont dismissed calls for Biden to take a mental competency test, calling it a political stunt.
Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation appears divided too.
According to the Associated Press, Rep. Jim Himes called for Biden to step aside during a private conference call with Democratic leaders. Himes has not confirmed the report, and the congressman told News 12 Connecticut last week that he wanted to see more polling data first.
Sen. Chris Murphy has also expressed reservations.
“I think this week is going to be absolutely critical,” Murphy told CNN on Sunday. “I think the president needs to do more.”
But others are wary of a Biden exit.
At a House Democratic caucus on Tuesday, Rep. Jahana Hayes argued that “putting [Vice President Kamala] Harris atop the ticket would be setting her up for failure,” Punch Bowl News’ Jake Sherman posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal is also sticking with Biden.
“He has the time and opportunity to quell concern, and he is making every effort to do so,” he told reporters on Monday.
Biden has repeatedly insisted that he’s not going anywhere.
“I wouldn’t be running if I didn't absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024,” he told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday.

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