White House denies report that Biden is weighing whether to stay in election race

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The White House dismissed as “absolutely false” a New York Times report on Wednesday that said U.S. President Joe Biden had told an ally he was weighing whether to continue his bid for reelection in November.

The report was based on a conversation the Times said Biden had with an unnamed “key ally,” who was quoted as saying the president knew he needs to quickly reassure the public he can still do the job.

Biden’s shaky debate performance against Republican rival Donald Trump in Atlanta last week has sparked calls for him to step aside as the Democratic candidate for the Nov. 5 election.

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In a post on social media platform X, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates wrote: “This claim is absolutely false”. The spokesperson’s comment was posted along with an image of the New York Times story, which carried the headline: “Biden Told Ally That He Is Weighing Whether To Continue in the Race”.

The text of the Times report did not include a reference to Biden explicitly saying he is reconsidering his reelection bid.

The report quoted the ally as saying that Biden “knows if he has two more events like that, we’re in a different place” by the end of the weekend.

CNN later reported a similar conversation with an unnamed ally, who was quoted as saying that Biden is “not oblivious.”

In its report, CNN said Biden had privately acknowledged to an ally that the next stretch was critical to whether he can save his reelection bid.

“The polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly. He’s not oblivious,” CNN quoted the ally as saying.

The president has said he was tired during the debate after two foreign trips, and during the debate, White House officials said he had a cold. Biden’s campaign has held damage control calls with donors, and is planning to hold a meeting with Democratic governors later on Wednesday.

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