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Biden and his allies rush to reassure anxious Democrats who want him off the ticket

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's aides and allies circulated talking points to Democrats, fielded phone calls from nervous donors and shoehorned new lines into the president's speech Friday afternoon as part of an all-out effort to contain the damage from his weak debate performance the night before.

Biden's hoarse voice and subdued delivery rattled Democratic leaders who had been hoping that an energetic performance would quell persistent concerns that he isn't up to the rigors of the presidency.

One ally, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, told NBC News that Biden "had a bad night. It's hard to say otherwise."

Murphy is hosting a fundraising event for Biden on Saturday and conceded he's received some nervous calls from donors. Still, he said no one has backed out of the event, and Biden has proven that he "knows how to get back up and dust himself off."

The 90-minute debate debacle in Atlanta crystallized a sense of foreboding that had been building among Democrats for months. Quietly, some strategists are now mulling possible replacements at the top of the ticket should Biden bow out.

“The party needs to consider its options in terms of how we address our new circumstances post-debate. But we don’t have much time,” Tom Daschle, a former Senate Democratic leader, told NBC News in an interview.

Biden’s performance created uncertainty inside his own team as it dealt with the fallout, which continued into Friday evening when The New York Times' editorial board called on him to leave the race. After the debate, Biden campaign aides discussed whether Vice President Kamala Harris should do television interviews. Some believed it would be a bad look for her to appear on TV, worrying that she might outshine Biden, according to a

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