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What Joe Biden Needs To Do To Win After Debate Debacle


EXCLUSIVE: “Why isn’t Joe Biden on 60 Minutes tonight? Why wasn’t he on Meet the Press this morning?”

Those are the questions an exasperated top Hollywood donor had Sunday as the blast radius from the president’s disastrous June 27 debate performance continued to expand despite the White House and the campaign’s efforts to act like it was just a bump in the road to reelection.

“They need to stop blaming other people, the president needs to show people he’s up to the job,” the donor, who attended the fundraiser with Vice President Kamala Harris at Rob and Michele Reiner’s on Saturday night, added. “They need to get him on TV, now!”

Expressing impatience at best and anger at worst with the campaign and the 81-year-old Biden’s weak voiced and meandering face-off with a surprisingly focused and unsurprisingly falsehood spreading Donald Trump on CNN on Thursday, a number of deep pocketed Tinseltown contributors on both coasts tell Deadline that face time with the Veep and Biden himself over the weekend has offered minimal reassurance, to put it kindly.

“It’s all off the teleprompter, it’s all don’t worry,” a NYC donor said Sunday. “I’m f*cking worried!” A number of donors in both the Big Apple and the City of Angels said they are taking a “wait and see” approach, as Deadline reported on June 28.

President Joe Biden & Elton John speak onstage on June 28 at the Grand Opening Ceremony for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center in NYC Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, a Program of Pride Live

Some donors are being more circumspect, speaking to the campaign privately. Others, not so much. “Let’s see what the plan is this week, let’s see how he turns this around,” a prominent small screen showrunner and usually dependable Democratic donor said. “I want to see them flood the zone.”

Amid calls from the New York Times Editorial Board and columnists, New Yorker editor David Remnick, and others for the struggling Biden to bow out ASAP in service to the nation, a repeated response is that if the currently Camp David huddling incumbent is going to stay in the race he has to take a drastically new stance.

“Biden should sit down with George Stephanopoulos live for an hour this week as a start,” a well-connected producer states. “Make it event viewing, come clean.”

“Stump speeches, handpicked crowds don’t cut it anymore now. We are going to lose this thing if things don’t change fast,” the Film and TV vet went on to say. “If he can’t do it, it’s a shame to say, (but) we need someone who can to take on Trump and his crowd.”

What was especially frustrating to one top Hollywood supporter was the Biden team’s blaming of pundits and others in the post-debate fallout. “We all saw what we saw,” the supporter said.

Already attracting attention from certain media circles today, a POTUS sit down interview is not an entirely original idea after a big gaffe or crisis. It worked for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton on more than one occasion. However, compared to his predecessors, Biden has done relatively few of them.

Citing data from the White House Transition Project, The Washington Post reported in April that Biden had done 118 one-on-one interviews with media as of April 30, compared to 97 for Trump at that point in his term and 71 for Obama. The White House has often pushed back on figures such as these, noting that Biden has done frequent informal Q&A sessions with the media — 570 — compared to 623 for Trump at this point in his term. As White Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the Deadline ElectionLine podcast in April, POTUS values the power and reach of local TV to reach voters over the networks.

None of the networks has announced any kind of pending interview with Biden.

Spokespersons for ABC News, CNN and CBS News did not have any kind of update, and a spokesperson for NBC News did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The president last sat for an interview with ABC News’ David Muir in Normandy, France earlier this month during the D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations.

The pitch now we’re hearing that donors want for an in-depth sit down interview is that it would be a kind of event television all its own, not fleeting moments on the campaign trail. Biden could explain what happened, and why he had such a bad night.

In fact, several Hollywood political denizens, many of whom were at the Harris fundraiser on Saturday, believe the best way out of this mess for President Biden if he wants to have a fighting chance against Trump is to be more like his VP. “He needs to go on CNN with (Anderson) Cooper. I hate to say this, he needs to go on Fox with Hannity like Newsom did, and give back better than he gets,” another donor states.  “Show people he can handle the tough questions.”

In clear damage control mode, the Vice President was suddenly all over post-debate coverage on June 27. Stressing the president had “a slow start” but finished strong, Harris won praise from the likes of Anderson  Cooper, who said to the VP: “Neither person on that stage tonight made the argument as coherently as you just did.”

A somewhat familiar face on the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox and an adopted political son for Biden, California Gov. Gavin Newsom offered a preview of a potential 2028 White House bid when he wiped the floor with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on a Hannity hosted debate on November 30, 2023.

Right now, with some outlets reporting a come to Jesus moment among family members at the presidential retreat (something Biden aides deny), Joe Biden’s overall schedule for next week has not been made public. Gathering with family for a photo portrait by Annie Leibovitz, the president will stay at Camp David until Monday. He will return to the White House around 8:20 pm ET on July 1, the Press Office confirmed late today. With the Independence Day holiday coming up this week, Biden has a visit to a D.C. Emergency Operations Center and a fundraiser on Tuesday, a Medal of Honor ceremony on Wednesday and a barbeque with military service members on Independence Day. Nothing else has been announced.

Anthony Scaramucci, who briefly served as Donald Trump’s communications director, wrote on X/Twitter that over the weekend, he “went to President Biden‘s fundraiser in East Hampton and I thought he did quite well reading the teleprompter today and meeting with people. However, that is not going to be enough to prove to the American people that he’s up for another 4 years.”

He pointed to an insistent email that author Whitney Tilson has been sending out to top Democrats, which includes four ideas to deal with the post-debate fallout. They include holding an hourlong press conference at the White House, and continuing them every week until after the election; doing an interview with 60 Minutes this week; meeting with the editorial board of The New York Times; and doing another appearance on a late-night show, as he did with Seth Meyers earlier this year. 

The recommendations all came with a sense of urgency, that Biden had to act quickly to course correct.

In sync with much of what Tilson wrote, a long time political operative said to Deadline that Biden should to be giving face-to-face interviews and town halls every week up until the Democrats’ convention at the end of August in Chicago. “More events with regular people, that’s where Joe Biden used to excel,” the operative added, noting the contrast to Trump and his Mar-a-Lago courtiers.

On top of that, Sunday night is the end of quarter deadline for campaign contributions, and the Biden/Harris may face another embarrassment if they come up significantly short again against the Trump machine.

When it comes to the bottom line, the debate debacle proved a cash cow for the Biden/Harris campaign The reelection effort raised $27 million from June 27 to June 28, according to a June 29 memo sent out to influential donors from Campaign Chair, Jen O’Malley Dillon. However, that $27 million negates what the campaign could have pulled in if the president had put in a truly strong showing.

One recipient of O’Malley Dillion’s correspondence called it “tone deaf.” Another insider dismissed the memo as  part of a “don’t believe you’re eyes strategy,” citing the social media posts by leading Democratic donor John Morgan.

“Joe Biden had a chance to make his case and he blew it,” a big check writing West LA donor exclaimed this weekend. “He has a small window to make his case again directly to the American public, and hope they give him another chance.”

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