Despite debate performance, support for Biden remains strong among Black leaders, by Tamil R. Harris

7/4/2024, 6 p.m.
President Joe Biden and the first lady spent Sunday at Camp David with their grandchildren after his debate performance. At …

President Joe Biden and the first lady spent Sunday at Camp David with their grandchildren after his debate performance. At the same time, the media and a growing chorus of Democrats speculate on the 81-year-old leader’s future.

But Sen. Rafael Warnock (D-Ga.) sounded more like a preacher than a politician on “Meet the Press” as he defended Biden on a Sunday when the

Atlanta Constitution joined several major news outlets to call for Biden not to run for re-election after his June 27 CNN debate performance was admittedly poor.

“As a pastor, there have been more than a few Sundays that I wished I had preached a better sermon,” Warnock said. “After the sermon, it was my job to embody the message.

“To show up for the people that I serve, and that is what Joe Biden has done his entire life,” Warnock said in an interview with NBC’s Laura Jarrett.

“Over the last four years, he has been showing up for the American people … Joe Biden has demonstrated over the last four years the character and metal of the man that he is. He is a life of public service baptized in sorrow. As for Trump, how do you stand and lie every 90 seconds?”

The most vital voices calling for Biden not to run for re-election come from media outlets and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. At the same time, progressives and African-American leaders remain committed to the President.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Sunday on Face the Nation that he didn’t see President Biden getting out of the race despite his poor performance.

“I got a chance to see the president challenged; I have seen him in times of trial,” said Moore, referring to the crisis when a ship collided into a Baltimore bridge, and he called Biden at 3:30 am. “But when we get knocked down, we get back up.”

Political operative the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of the New Birth Baptist Church, said, “I’d rather have Joe Biden in a wheelchair than Donald Trump on both of his feet. There is too much focus on personality when it should be on policy.” Bryant said he and the Rev. Freddi Haynes held a conference call with 100 black preachers last weekend to shore up support for Biden. “As quiet as it is kept, Joe Biden did more to advance the Black community than Barack Obama.” Melanie Campbell, president of the National Coalition of Black Voter Participation, a nonpartisan organization, said talk of Biden leaving the race is premature.

“The people voted for these two nominees. There is too much cynicism in this country. More seats are on the ballot than just who will be in the White House.”

President Obama tweeted after the debate, “Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.”

Obama tweeted, “Between someone who tells the truth; who knows right from wrong and will give it to the American people straight — and someone who lies through his teeth for his benefit. Last night didn’t change that, and it’s why so much is at stake in November.”

A more forceful Biden spoke in North Carolina the day after the debate, where he acknowledged that his debate performance didn’t go well. But he also said to wild applause, “I know when you get knocked down, you get back up!”