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Opinion | Should Joe Biden drop out of the 2024 campaign?

For Democrats, the first 2024 debate between President Biden and former president Donald Trump went very badly. Three Post Opinions columnists got together on the “Impromptu” podcast to talk about whether it’s time for the party to panic. This excerpt from their conversation has been edited.

Use the audio player or The Post’s “Impromptu” podcast feed to listen to the entire conversation.

Jim Geraghty: By the standards of a normal presidential candidate, Trump didn’t have a great night. He was a little more disciplined at the beginning, and I think it wore off as the night wore on. But it says something about how bad Biden was that so much of the coverage this morning is, “Oh, my God, look at how Biden was. Also, Donald Trump was there.”

It takes a lot to overshadow Donald Trump and Biden managed to do it. That’s how terrifying, how unnerving, Biden’s performance was.

Karen Tumulty: So, Dana, do you think President Biden should drop out?

Dana Milbank: I’ve never joined that chorus before, mostly because I’ve always said it’s not going to happen. So what’s the point? Would I prefer that there were somebody else as the Democratic nominee, as the only man left standing for truth? Absolutely. I’d like to see that. So if Biden were to decide the best service to the country he could administer right now is stepping aside, I would applaud that decision. So I guess that’s a way of saying yes.

But then what happens? Kamala Harris, is she a better representation for the Democrats? I just feel like they, and therefore the country, are in a pretty terrible spot right now.

Tumulty: This is not the old days when you had party bosses who could meet in the proverbial smoke-filled room and make their choices. I just really find it hard to imagine that thousands of convention delegates could coalesce around a choice that quickly, and that their choice, who would be someone untested by a primary, could actually get them over the finish line in November. So it may be that they’re stuck with the lame horse they rode in on.

Geraghty: If Biden were to decide, “You know what? It’s time for me to hang it up,” then his delegates are free to vote for whomever they want to. They are not necessarily obligated to support Kamala Harris. They could go to Gavin Newsom or Gretchen Whitmer or anybody else.

Tumulty: So, if you’re on Biden’s team this morning, if you’re Jill Biden or Ron Klain or Mike Donilon or Anita Dunn, what are you telling him this morning? What’s your advice?

Milbank: If he’s going to listen to anybody, it will be those people that you just mentioned. That’s part of why I say it doesn’t do us any good to say, “Yeah, Joe Biden should do such and such.” But if he’s hearing it from the people around him, if he’s hearing it from his family, if he’s hearing it from donors, maybe that will mean something different.

Geraghty: If I were trying to advise Biden right now, it would be: Mr. President, 24 hours ago, your primary legacy was going to be as the man who stopped Trump. Right now, your legacy is on course to be the man who enabled Trump to get back into the White House after January 6, after his indictments, after his conviction. You don’t want that to be your legacy.

Listen to the full conversation here:

Read More: Opinion | Should Joe Biden drop out of the 2024 campaign?

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