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Leading Democrats Vouch for Biden, but Concede a ‘Bad Night’

Democratic Party leaders swiftly and unequivocally ruled out the idea that President Biden would or should step aside after his shaky performance at the first presidential debate. But there was a palpable sense of anxiety on Capitol Hill on Friday morning about what it would mean for his campaign and their own re-election chances.

“We have a great team of people that will help govern,” said Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California and an official Biden surrogate responsible for reaching out to young voters. “That is what I’m going to continue to make the case for.”

When asked if he could vouch for the president, Mr. Khanna only said, “I can vouch for our policies.”

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California and a former House speaker, acknowledged that “from a performance standpoint, it wasn’t great.” But, she added, “from a values standpoint, it far outshone the other guy.” Ms. Pelosi, a longtime booster of Mr. Biden’s candidacy, said that she did not think Mr. Biden should step aside as the party’s presidential nominee and that she did not know of anyone pushing him to do so.

“I’m not doing it, and I don’t know anyone who’s doing it,” she said.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York and the House minority leader, also said that he did not think Mr. Biden should step aside, despite the increased concerns about his age and his ability to do the job.

Still, Democrats said they were concerned, not only about the White House but also about their prospects of winning back control of the House of Representatives and keeping control of the Senate. On Friday morning, many Democrats were speed-walking into the House chamber to avoid questions from reporters.

Read more on nytimes.com