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Tester unsure if Biden can win after debate

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | July 11, 2024 12:00 AM

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among three high-ranking Democratic senators to question President Joe Biden’s ability to win reelection in November.

Tester, alongside Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., told colleagues during a closed-door luncheon Tuesday that he doubts Biden will beat former president Donald Trump.  

Tester and Brown are in two of the most competitive senatorial campaigns of the election cycle.

“President Biden's bad debate performance raised serious questions about whether he's up the job for the next four years. As I have said, he needs to prove to the American people, and me, that he can do it,” Tester said in a statement on Wednesday.

Biden’s widely considered abysmal performance during the June 27 debate has become a cause for consternation in Democratic circles on Capitol Hill. The Delaware Democrat’s lackluster showing, marred by halting and confused answers, has raised questions about his health and fitness for office.

Biden, though, has said he will stay in the race.

As of Wednesday morning, 8 of 214 Democrats in the House have publicly called for Biden to step aside. At least half a dozen House Democrats have expressed that Biden should end his candidacy privately.

Bennet is one of the first senators to take his concerns about Biden’s reelection chances public. Bennet expressed his worry Tuesday night during a televised interview with CNN.

“Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide and take with him the Senate and the House,” he said.

During the luncheon, Tester said that he seriously doubted Biden could win the presidency against Trump, according to multiple news outlets.

Tester’s remarks were focused on Biden’s failure to reassure the American public, and Montana’s senior senator, that the president is up to the job for the next four years, according to a senior Senate aide.

“For me this isn’t a question about polling; it’s not a question about politics. It’s a moral question about the future of our country,” Bennet said in the interview Tuesday.

Tester’s Republican rival, political newcomer Tim Sheehy, has used the concern over the viability of Biden’s health and candidacy on the campaign trail in recent days. His campaign has dinged Tester first for failing to call on Biden to step aside and later for expressing reservations in private.

Asked whether he still supports Trump, who was convicted in June of 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records, Sheehy said he remained firmly behind the former president.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.