Durbin: Debate ‘raised a lot of questions’ about Biden’s viability

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said Monday that President Biden’s debate performance “raised a lot of questions” about his strength as a general election candidate, but he added he would withhold judgment until hearing from colleagues.

Asked if he has concerns about Biden’s physical or mental ability to run the country, Durbin said colleagues and voters need to be reassured.

“I watched the debate, and it raised a lot of questions. He is trying to answer those questions. In some respects, he’s done it very effectively. In other respects, not as effectively,” Durbin told reporters at the Capitol.

Lawmakers are returning to Washington on Monday after a weeklong recess, with questions about Biden looming large.

Durbin declined to say whether he thinks Biden should be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in November, and he noted his fellow Democratic senators are divided on the subject.

“I’ve talked to a dozen of my colleagues, and they have differing views,” he said.

And Durbin said Biden appears to be taking the concerns of Democratic lawmakers seriously, despite complaints from some senators, such as Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), that Biden’s campaign was dismissive about the anxieties voiced by many Democrats after the debate.

“I think he takes it seriously, as he should,” Durbin said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also spoke to reporters at the Capitol and reiterated his support for Biden.

“As I’ve said before, I’m for Joe,” Schumer said as he walked into the building and headed for an elevator.

Schumer last week told reporters in Syracuse he had worked closely with Biden and “delivered a lot for America and for Central New York.”

Durbin said the topic of Biden’s fitness to lead the Democratic Party’s ticket in November would receive thorough discussion this week.

And he said he still thinks Biden can beat Trump.

“I think at the bottom line when the American people take a look at Donald Trump closely, they will not want to return to those four years and they certainly, I hope, understand that these Supreme Court rulings create a different presidency than we had when he was last in office. It’s a dangerous situation for this country’s democracy,” Durbin said, referring to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling granting Trump immunity from criminal prosecution related to official acts.

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