Three House Democrats describe chaos within caucus as party navigates Biden concerns

Three House Democratic lawmakers say they have been besieged with hundreds of texts, phones ringing off the hook and numerous video calls as the party looks to blunt the fallout from President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance last week and determine what’s next ahead of November.

The lawmakers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, painted a feverish mood within the House Democratic Caucus as Biden has privately acknowledged that the next stretch of days is crucial to his campaign as he faces a growing number of calls to step aside as the party’s presumptive presidential nominee or risk the party’s chances of keeping the White House and winning back control of the House.

“The phones don’t stop ringing. Everyone is talking,” one House Democrat told CNN’s “The Lead,” pointing to polling that shows the president’s waning popularity and the prevailing fear that Biden remaining at the top of the ticket could negatively affect House races.

“Polling of House members is cratering. We all are out-performing the president, but that’s not sustainable,” the member said.

Another House Democrat said one of Biden’s answers during the debate – which ultimately ended in confused silence – made them “get up and leave.” “My blood pressure went through the roof. I went into the other room and had a glass of wine. The president’s performance was so bad so early, it was the first time I thought I could lose my race as well,” the second House Democrat said.

A third House Democrat said they had believed the Biden campaign and the White House when they publicly lauded the president as healthy — until they watched the debate.

“I thought he was older. I thought he wasn’t as quick, but, man, I didn’t think this,” the member said, adding that “sometimes when you’re with someone every day who’s declining, you don’t see as clearly. You see what you want to see.” The lawmaker went on to say, “You can see difference even from where he was at the State of The Union.”

The first House member told CNN there is a split forming in the party “between staying the course” with Biden or moving to Vice President Kamala Harris as the party’s candidate. “Seems those that that have a relationship with Biden want to stay the course,” that member said.

Whether Harris is a viable candidate option for the party remains in question, according to the sources.

“It’s not an easy call,” the second member said.

The third House Democrat said they don’t have in mind a “perfect candidate.”

“I just want to beat Trump, and I don’t think Biden can do that,” they said.

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