• Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

Why Black Americans see the debate about Biden’s age differently

Why Black Americans see the debate about Biden's age differently


Black Democrats and leaders are sticking beside President Joe Biden after more than a week of calls from some Congressional Democrats and media pundits for him to step aside as the party’s presidential nominee following his underwhelming June 27 debate with Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. 

Biden’s support for remaining in the 2024 race culminated on Monday night after he met with the Congressional Black Caucus to reiterate what he said in a letter to Congressional Democrats earlier that day: he is “firmly committed” to staying in the race and “beating Donald Trump.”

Following his reported 20-minute guest remarks during the virtual weekly CBC convening, members quickly announced their unwavering support for the president.

“He’s committed to fighting for the soul of our nation and Black economic progress. And because of that, I stand with him even more strongly than before,” U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., told theGrio minutes after the closed meeting concluded. 

The longtime congresswoman said she was left more committed to supporting the president’s reelection after hearing him speak directly about “what he has done to uplift Black Americans and to grow Black wealth.” She added that Biden also laid out “what he plans to do to continue to slash Black poverty and help Black Americans thrive.”

“This is not a time to have the discussion about Joe Biden’s age or Joe Biden’s debate,” Wilson continued. “This has to do with the future of our nation, the future of our people and the future of our children.”

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., similarly came out forcibly in support of Biden.

“What I find interesting is that the issues more around ageism and ableism and not what this president, President Biden, has done,” Horsford told CNN’s Abby Phillip hours after the Biden call when asked about concerns voters may have about the 81-year-old president’s age and mental fitness.

Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus about the candidacy of President Joe Biden at the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (Photo by Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“It is his experience and his civility because he actually cares about the American people while Donald Trump only cares about himself or the billionaires and big corporations that he wants to give tax cuts to.”

Democratic strategist Joel Payne assessed that President Biden’s decision to meet with the CBC and the subsequent strong backing from its members shows the strength of the 60-member caucus popularly known as the “conscience of the Congress” and who serves as a “stand-in for the broader opinions of Black America at this moment.”

A July poll conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International Research found that Black voters are more likely than any other demographic to support Biden even if he suffered age-related impairment and couldn’t serve out his second term through 2029.

Payne said Black voters are more “pragmatic” than other racial and ethnic groups in their approach to politics in “understanding that they are most on the front lines from right-wing attacks [and] right-wing tear downs of freedoms.”

“They are most in the crosshairs of any population. And so I think that that has contributed to large swaths of Black voters really viewing this moment through a very pragmatic, practical lens,” he explained. 

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Austin Davis told theGrio that he’s not surprised Black voters are still standing by Biden. He described a clear departure from the conversations being had among the political class in Washington, D.C., and in the media versus everyday Americans and state elected leaders.

“They’re not kind of caught up in the day-to-day grind of the political process that they’re talking about on CNN or MSNBC,” he noted. 

Davis, who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania on Sunday, dismissed concerns about President Biden’s fitness, telling theGrio that he observed a president who was “energetic” and exhibited “stamina.” 

The president visited a morning service at a Black church in Philadelphia and delivered remarks at a campaign event in Harrisburg, and, according to Davis, “shook hands for about an hour with everybody who was there in 95-degree sweltering heat.”

U.S. President Joe Biden takes a selfie with local officials after arriving at Harrisburg International Airport on July 7, 2024, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“I’m 34 years old, and it was a long day for me. I’m sure he had a longer day,” said the Democratic lieutenant governor. “I thought the president was sharp and clear … he has demonstrated not only can he effectively run this race and beat Donald Trump, he’s proven that he’s ready for the next four years.”

Ultimately, Black Democrats tell theGrio that winning over Black voters will be crucial to Biden’s re-election. They believe the president can do this by touting his accomplishments and how they benefited Black communities, laying out his plan for the next four years to continue that progress, and effectively communicating why a second Trump administration is a danger to Black Americans. 

As theGrio’s April Ryan reported, during his call with the CBC, President Biden highlighted economic policy goals he has set for the next four years, including closing the racial gap in homeownership, expanding Black wealth, and extending the Child Tax Credit, which researchers say would significantly help Black families.   

Lt. Gov. Davis said economic, kitchen-table issues like these should be the “centerpiece of the message that Black elected officials are campaigning on” in battleground states like Pennsylvania. He added, ​​“We’re not saying that things are perfect. We’re saying  … President Biden has delivered, and we want to stick with a candidate that has proven to deliver for us.”

By contrast, Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright said, “Black voters understand the threats to come along with Donald Trump and Trumpism are far greater than they were in 2016, especially when you hear him talk about retribution.” He told theGrio, “We care about the future of our country and our community.” 

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Considering Biden’s 2020 victory against Trump was in large part due to the support of Black voters, Seawright said he’s not surprised that attempts to cast Biden aside are being rejected by Black leaders and Black voters.  

“He may not be perfect, and all of us may not be pleased, but by and large, we are certainly not going to allow anyone else to push out what we put in,” he argued. 

The longtime adviser to influential U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., noted that Black voters have historically disagreed with “those we’ve given our vote to.”

“Barack Obama was an African-American president. It doesn’t mean we didn’t have disagreements with him,” he explained. “It just means those disagreements did not compare to the disagreements we had with the Republican Party at that time. I think that’s still true.”

Congresswoman Wilson said the focus should be less on whether Biden’s age is a disqualifier and more on Trump and his 34-count felonies and pending criminal indictments. 

“That alone should be enough for Republicans to be looking for another candidate. There’s no comparison between Joe Biden and Donald Trump,” she maintained. “It should be not even allowed for the two of them to stand next to each other. That’s just how despicable Donald Trump is.”



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