Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is “freaking out” over his poor performance during Thursday’s 2020 Democrat presidential primary debate, according to a report.
New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, citing a source close to the Biden campaign, reported that watch parties cheering on the former vice president failed to generate the excitement staffers had hoped.
“The source said that internally, field staff says the campaign-organized debate watch parties in early voting states have been “awkward” and that Biden isn’t playing well to those who attended,” Nuzzi wrote on Twitter.
Nuzzi further reported that her source said Biden is rejecting debate advice from staff. “According to Biden’s staff, he isn’t listening to his debate prep and he’s ‘set in his ways,’ the source close to the campaign tells me,” she wrote.
Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, denied that the candidate’s camp is in freak out mode, simply tweeting “Nope” in response to Nuzzi.
The Democrat Party’s early front-runner was forced to defend his record on race in the face of tough questions from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the only African American on stage. That was only after he defended his age after jabs from one of two millennial candidates in the prime-time clash.
“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said, though she described Biden’s record of working with Democrat segregationist senators on non-race issues as “hurtful.”
Clearly on defense, the 76-year-old called the Harris attack “a complete mischaracterization of my record.” He declared, “I ran because of civil rights.”
The debate marked an abrupt turning point in a Democratic primary in which candidates have largely tiptoed around each other, focusing instead on their shared desire to beat Trump. However, the debate revealed just how deep the fissures are within the Democratic Party eight months before primary voting begins.
In another uneasy moment for Biden, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) took a swipe at the former vice president’s advanced age.
“Joe Biden was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago,” Swalwell jabbed.
Biden responded: “I’m still holding on to that torch.”
Either Biden or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be the oldest president ever elected.
Toward the conclusion of the debate, Biden bizarrely vowed to make defeating President Donald Trump his first priority if elected to the White House. However, earlier this month, he declared that the Equality Act would be his top legislative priority, an effort to enshrine LGBTQ protections into the nation’s labor and civil rights laws.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.