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Democratic governor says Biden ‘fit for office’ after president meets with group of state leaders

<i>Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Kathy Hochul
Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Kathy Hochul

By Jack Forrest, CNN

(CNN) — Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz said Wednesday that President Joe Biden is “fit for office,” following a meeting with the president as he looks to ease fears about his ability to lead the country and take on Donald Trump in November.

“Yes, fit for office,” the governor said in response to a question from a reporter, shortly after the closed door meeting between Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and nearly every Democratic governor in the country.

“None of us are denying Thursday night was a bad performance. It was a bad hit, if you will on that, but it doesn’t impact what I believe: He’s delivering.”

The vote of confidence comes as Biden has faced increasing pressure and questions from some within his own party over the viability of his presidential campaign. Some Democratic lawmakers have voiced concern and called for him to step aside as the presumptive Democratic nominee amid fears that Biden remaining at the top of the ticket could risk the party’s chances of keeping the White House and winning back control of the House.

The meeting between Biden and the dozens of state leaders followed a call held by Walz earlier in the week in which some governors expressed surprise that they had not heard from Biden about his disastrous debate performance.

Three of the Democratic governors — Walz, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul — addressed reporters outside the White House, underscoring that they stood behind the president.

Moore, largely considered to be a rising star in the Democratic Party, described the meeting as “honest” and “candid” as the governors shared concerns with the president.

“We always believe that when you love someone, you tell them the truth. And I think we came in and we were honest about the feedback that we were getting. We were honest about the concerns that we are hearing from people,” Moore said.

He continued, “And we’re also honest about the fact that as the president continued to tell us and show us that he was all in, that we said that we would stand with him.”

Hochul agreed: “I’m here to tell you today: President Joe Biden is in it to win it. And all of us said we pledged our support to him because the stakes could not be higher.”

Asked whether Biden was able to explain his poor debate performance, Walz said, “Yeah, he did. He said, ‘Look,’ he didn’t listen to himself.”

Walz added, “I think this idea that you get in your own head, you get a little bit cycled up on that. What we saw in there today was a guy who was the guy that all of us believed in the first time who could beat Donald Trump and he did beat Donald Trump.”

Democratic Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, whose names have been floated as possible choices to enter the race should Biden step aside, were present at the meeting but did not address members of the press immediately after.

In a statement to CNN, Newsom said, “I heard three words from the President – he’s all in. And so am I. Joe Biden’s had our back. Now it’s time to have his.” And in a post on X, Whitmer similarly said, “@JoeBiden is our nominee. He is in it to win it and I support him.”

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who joined the meeting virtually, told CNN she voiced concerns from some voters in her state, telling the Democratic standard-bearer that some voters have “anxiety over whether he could win” following his “difficult to watch” debate.

“I appreciated the opportunity to talk with the president. We had a candid and constructive conversation, in which I told him that I cared deeply about him, that I believe he has been an excellent leader for our country, and that I support him,” she said, adding that she looks “forward to the president demonstrating to the American people the same heart, determination, and vigor that he brought to our conversation.”

According to a readout of the meeting provided by the Biden campaign, “The president reiterated his determination to defeat the existential threat of Donald Trump at the ballot box in November and sought the advice and expertise of Democratic governors.”

“All participants reiterated their shared commitment to do everything possible to make sure President Biden and Vice President Harris beat Donald Trump in November,” the campaign added.

CNN’s Elise Hammond, Samantha Waldenberg, Kit Maher, Betsy Klein and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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