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ON THE FRONT LINES: Biden has to stay in presidential race

While there have been calls for President Biden to leave the 2024 Presidential Race, he should still stay. – Photo by @Fxhedgers/

On Thursday, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former President Donald J. Trump met in Atlanta for the first Presidential debate. This would be the first time since 2020 that voters could see the two leading candidates present their visions for the country's future.

For many, the debate was painful to get through. Many commented on Trump's unsubstantiated claims that got little pushback from the moderators, like when he claimed that police ushered in the rioters during the insurrection on Jan 6, 2021.

Similarly, others seemed concerned with Biden's performance due to his more senior moments, such as claiming to beat Medicare.

The most notable impact of the debate seems to be the effort to encourage Biden to step down. This is especially significant since politically left parties, such as the New York Times Editorial Board, the New Yorker and top Democratic strategists are calling for his departure. Since then, the conversation has focused on finding a successor to Biden in hopes of keeping Trump out of the White House.

But these calls are very short-sighted.

It would be unfair to write off Biden due to one debate performance. He has shown his capability as a fiery and energetic speaker, most notably during the 2024 State of the Union and a post-debate campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Even though the debate coverage focused on President Biden's senior moments, he still made some good jabs at Trump, especially regarding the Republican’s moral character and comments on veterans.

This is a chance for the Biden campaign to take the time to make improvements rather than abandon ship.

While age has been a focus on Biden, it is remarkable that Trump has not been subjected to the same level of scrutiny. While Trump's delivery at tonight's debate might have been better received, his performance failed at many critical points.

For example, Trump failed to answer questions. When asked about lowering the cost of childcare, Trump spent the entire time discussing immigration, James Comey and the pullout from Afghanistan.

Similarly, it took the moderators asking Trump three times whether he would accept the results of the 2024 election to have him state that he would only accept them if they were fair and legal, giving him an excuse to criticize them still.

I can understand people being concerned about Biden's rambling answers, but I would take that over someone who does not even answer the question.

The other part of the discussion is who should be on the Democratic ticket if not Biden. Many names have been thrown out, ranging from current Vice President Kamala Harris to California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-C.A.) to, satirically, former President Jimmy Carter.

There is no clear successor to Biden's position, and many potential successors have issues.

Regarding Harris, she is currently facing high disapproval ratings. In 2021, Biden tasked Harris with handling the border, and voters feel the issue is still not being handled properly, especially since she visited the border sporadically. This is on top of Vice President Harris feeling absent from the administration.

Other potential democrats, like Newsom, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-M.I.) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-G.A), lack the name identification that comes with Biden. Even if Democrats decide to make the change in August when the Democratic National Convention happens, there would only be three months to establish their brand and unify the party.

Furthermore, voters did have the opportunity to ditch Biden as the nominee. Those voters who thought Biden was not progressive enough on specific issues could choose Marianne Williamson. For voters concerned about Biden's age, voters could choose former Congressman Dean Phillips.

Even when Biden had to launch a write-in campaign for the New Hampshire primary, he still won, showing that he is still the candidate that Democratic voters want.

The current race is still to be determined. Both national polls and swing state polls are tight. While the odds after this first debate have swung against Biden, this is not the first time an incumbent has been in that position. Both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama had poor first debate performances but recovered. Democrats would be better off giving Biden a chance rather than trying to sink his campaign.

Kiran Subramanian is a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in economics and political science.

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