Heilemann: Panic and Shock at the Highest Levels of the Party


If Joe Biden agrees to step down, Democrats will replace him. It’s hard to understand why they weren’t prepared for this. They seem legitimately shocked, or at least shocked Biden couldn’t cover up his mental frailty.

John Heilemann heard from Democrats during the debate and has never heard this degree of alarm even after having heard many bad first debates.

“I Have Never Seen Anything Like This”

“In terms of measuring the degree of alarm of a presidential candidate’s party about their performance, I have never seen anything like this by an order of magnitude.

“Just as a reporting matter, sitting congressman, sitting senators, sitting governors, millionaires, billionaires, across the spectrum, people who have been supportive and loyal to Joe Biden from day one, and continue in some respects to be supportive and loyal to Biden, were freaking out last night.

“I can’t as a reportorial matter, I can’t overstate the degree of freak out about what they were seeing.

“I don’t know what is going to happen now, but I will tell you that by the time you got to the first commercial break, at the highest levels of the Democratic Party, senators, governors, Congress people, biggest bundlers, biggest donors, there were conversations about what do we do now.

The Daily Mail Report

“A story the other day in the totally non-credible in many respects Daily Mail, I think a couple of weeks ago, on Monday, that said that that the Clintons, the Obamas, Schumer, and Pelosi we’re going to watch this debate and if [it’s] not going well for Joe Biden, they’re going to go and try to have the talk with him about stepping back.

I laughed at that, Heilemann said, “It was not a credible report.” However, he then heard “from about six good sources after that who said that’s not totally false, and the interesting part of that was …because no one thinks Joe Biden would listen to the Obamas, the Clintons on the subject, but because he cares so much about Democrats in the House and Senate, there was some discussion about whether Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer privately are at least taking soundings on this question.

“I don’t know what will happen now going forward, but I will say these are the kinds of conversations that people are having now.

“Because the level of panic is for me in my time covering politics, I’ve never seen a level of panic about this on this scale.”

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