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Behind the ‘last firewall’: Congressional Democrats scramble to save themselves

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Behind the 'last firewall': Congressional Democrats scramble to save themselves

As President Joe Biden’s campaign scrambles to calm nerves over the president’s disastrous debate performance, Democrats on Capitol Hill are growing increasingly angry with those around him and increasingly despondent about his reelection prospects and their own chances of winning majorities in the House and Senate.

Talks about a shift in strategy are already underway, with some Democratic lawmakers and many wealthy donors plotting over how, if Biden remains in the race, to secure congressional control over a second term for Donald Trump.

“The way I talk to my donors is: The Chamber is the last firewall, folks. have “To flip the House,” a top House Democrat told Playbook last night. “Ninety-nine percent of the people I talked to can’t get their credit card out fast enough.”

Those private discussions could eventually morph into an explicit campaign to put a stop to an expected Trump presidency by Democrats, just as Republicans in Congress did in 1996, when Bob Dole was headed for defeat.

Democrats aren’t there yet. We’re told that top party leaders are prepared to keep defending Biden as the party’s best choice for November, as they did on the Sunday show circuit yesterday. Part of it is a collective action problem (no one wants to be first, and potentially last), and part of it is that many believe that speaking out might only push Biden deeper.

But make no mistake: The desperation and frustration are real and mounting within the party. It has been keenly felt by front-line members — Democrats in swing districts who would be the cornerstone of any majority. Donors blew up their phones over the weekend, with some urging them to make public a group letter calling for a new nominee — an idea some discussed over the weekend.

“Party leaders should go to the White House, kick down the doors and say, ‘Time’s up,’” said an adviser to top Democratic donors. “Anyone trying to prolong the inevitable here is basically putting us on a giant fucking death march toward the end.”

That sense of anger is palpable among rank-and-file Democrats in Congress, many of whom blame Biden and his family for hiding the reality of his condition. The House Democrat regretted defending the president during the election campaign despite receiving political advice to run from him, only to find out how bad things were on Thursday.

“It’s just his selfishness and enabling his family,” the person said. “Jill (Biden) of all people, she sees it every day. She’s the only person who could put an end to this train wreck. … This should have been a one-term president.”

Many senior Democrats have not given up hope that Biden will change his mind should new polls reveal massive internal bleeding. They are willing to argue that, rather than dishonoring her legacy, a graceful exit would be one of her greatest and most selfless acts to save democracy.

“There is a tremendous amount of affection and deference toward the president, but no one believes that this is sustainable,” a senior Democratic aide told Playbook.

Meanwhile, Republicans are preparing to paint Democrats as enablers of a weak president.

Over the weekend, the NRSC announced a new strategy of making Democrats eat their own words by downplaying concerns about Biden’s fitness for office. In Pennsylvania, Republican David McCormick He went live with a new announcement which was a ping-pong from current Sen. Bob Casey expressing confidence in Biden’s leadership to the president’s shaky debate performance.

“Casey knew about Biden’s condition,” the words on the screen read.

The NRCC has compiled a similar dossier and is planning to “weaponize the silence of vulnerable House Democrats…capitalizing on Biden’s political collapse to expand the map and grow the Republican majority in the House,” according to a new memo obtained by Playbook.

“House Democrats have stood by and enabled this crisis because of their own irresponsibility and loyalty to their party over the people of this country,” the memo continues.

DCCC spokesman Viet Shelton dismissed the GOP threat, saying “House races have always been based on the strength of our candidates, combined with the fact that Democrats deliver when they are in charge, while extremist Republicans sow chaos.” He also noted that Democrats outpace their Republican opponents.

Unsaid: They also significantly outnumber Biden. But if recent history is any guide, that could easily change.

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