Angry Joe Biden: “Go Ahead. Challenge Me at the Convention”

As angry members of his party continue to criticize President Joe Biden, he has a message for them: He’s angry too.

“I’m getting so frustrated by the elites…the elites in the party who — they know so much more,” said Biden sarcastically, and called in Monday to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” his favorite news show on cable. “Any of these guys don’t think I should run against me: Go ahead. Challenge me at the convention.”

Pressure has continued to mount on Biden to drop out of the race since his horrendous debate performance last month. The call was part of a bigger effort to push back against the internal pressure by rallying his party’s base and channeling nationwide anger with elites across both parties.

Hours after he railed against party insiders, the president received a significant boost from one of its heavy hitters, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who told reporters, “I’m for Joe” as he returned to the Capitol Monday afternoon.

Minority Leader in the House Hakeem Jeffries of New York also reaffirmed his support for Biden, telling a CNN reporter that his position is unchanged.

Other Democratic legislators were more open to possible change, including Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who called for “conversations about the strongest path forward” and for Joe Biden “to more aggressively make his case to the American people.”

During his brief call to “Morning Joe,” the president’s tone was meant to convey a fighting spirit and reassure Democrats who worry he isn’t up to prosecuting the case against former President Donald Trump.

It remains unclear if it will work as Biden begins one of the most challenging weeks of his presidency. Congress is returning with growing vocal opposition from his party to replace him amid polls that show he is falling further behind critical states and the national vote.

Joe Biden is also hosting a gathering of global allies at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Washington, where he will be under increased pressure to perform well for a foreign audience, with concerns about the continuing war in Ukraine, the stability of America’s international role and an audience domestically that is eager to see if Biden continues to show signs of decline. Biden has a rare news conference scheduled for Thursday.

He has portrayed the movement to persuade him to step aside as anti-democratic and top-down, although 60% of voters in a New York Times poll said he should be replaced on the presidential ballot, almost twice the number who said he should remain the party’s nominee.

Biden had very little opposition in the Democratic primaries, meaning he could only decide whether or not to drop out.

“The voters of the Democratic Party have voted. They have chosen me to be the party’s nominee,” wrote Biden in a letter to congressional Democrats Monday, laying out his case for continuing in the race. “Do we now just say this process didn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say?”

President Biden railed against the Democrat establishment

Biden’s call-in to a morning cable news show to rail about the Democrat party’s establishment was a flashback to Trump’s favorite communication method. Even before he ran for reelection, Trump called in to “Fox & Friends” to speak his mind to hosts.

Early signs suggested that Biden was at least buying time to make his case for remaining in the race and that if he could avoid making further missteps in the coming weeks, he would hope that the increasing attention to his frailty would die down. However, for Democrats, it will still be a risky bet given Trump’s lead in the polls and the likelihood that many U.S. voters’ concerns over the president’s age won’t dissipate with time.

So far, Trump has only held one public event in the days since the debate, allowing Dems to discuss publicly Joe Biden’s future and keep the focus on his frailty instead of on Trump’s convictions.

“It drives me nuts people are talking about this,” said Biden, adding, “Where the hell has Trump been?”

However, he wouldn’t answer if he has been tested for age-related illnesses or Parkinson’s.

“I had a bad night,” said Biden with a chuckle. “That’s why I’ve been out. I’ve been testing myself.”

Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden’s press secretary, was also evasive, refusing to answer why Dr. Kevin Cannard, a Parkinson’s expert, visited the White House several times, citing privacy and security reasons in a testy exchange with WH reporters.

Jean-Pierre said Biden had seen a neurologist three times during his physicals since assuming the presidency but would not confirm if it was Cannard, why he had come at least eight times over the past year, or whether the visits were related to Biden.

On Monday evening, the White House released a letter from President Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, confirming that Cannard had been the neurologist who saw Biden in his annual physicals. O’Connor additionally wrote that Cannard regularly visits the White House Medical Unit to work with military personnel and has done so for 12 years.

Representative Mark Takano of Riverside was among four legislators on a conference call of House Democrats Sunday to call for a change at the top of the Democrat ticket, according to an aide who was privy to the conversation. Other Dems on the call expressed deep-seated concern without explicitly calling for change.

Burbank Democrat and candidate for the Senate, Representative Adam Schiff, stated his concerns publicly.

“The performance on the debate stage, I think, rightfully raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigor to defeat Donald Trump. This is an existential race,” said Schiff on “Meet the Press.” “It should not be even close. And there’s only one reason it is close: the president’s age.”

Some Dems have said the matter is politically urgent. However, the party would have until at least the beginning of the August 19 Democratic convention and likely beyond to replace Biden, though the process would grow increasingly complex and messy.

Initially, Ohio required candidates to be finalized by August 7, prompting Democrats to plan on virtually voting prior to the deadline. However, the legislature passed a bill in late May and signed it on June 2, moving the deadline to September 1.

Even if Dems keep their plan to nominate Joe Biden before the convention through a virtual process, they can change their mind later if he withdraws from the race, according to Elaine Kamarck, author of “Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know About How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates.”

“Too much is being made about that. Once the convention meets, it can do whatever it wants to do,” Kamarck, who also serves as a delegate, said.

The Democratic party could set up a process for nominating a replacement and passing rules through a roll-call vote. If the president withdrew following a convention vote, the party could still find a replacement through a vote by a party committee, said Kamarck. Candidates are technically elected by a set of electors, meaning the ballot wouldn’t need to change, said Kamarck. Republicans have signaled they would probably sue if that were to take place.