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Biden leans on family with political future at risk

President Biden is increasingly leaning on his family while navigating calls from fellow Democrats to end his 2024 candidacy.

Jill Biden and Hunter Biden serve as some of the president’s closest inner circle of confidants with a public focus shifting on them since his dismal debate performance last week. While the first lady is seen as the only person who could convince Biden to drop out of the race, the first son was also in a meeting with advisers to help with post-debate fallout.

The Biden family was together at Camp David the weekend after the debate. When they returned on Monday to Washington, Hunter Biden entered the White House, joining his father as he has done from time to time since becoming president.

The White House later confirmed that Hunter Biden helped his father post-debate and also joined the meeting to prepare the president for his speech about the Supreme Court immunity decision later that day, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

The close knit Biden family, especially first lady Jill Biden and son Hunter Biden, are known for their loyalty and protectiveness of the president. Biden leaning on them during a crisis, like ongoing calls for him to drop out of the race following a dismal debate performance, is evident of that relationship.

“He’s always leaned on Hunter because Hunter is politically and media savvy. Like Jill, he has the wisdom and experience of living through the last four decades in a front row seat to American politics,” said Michael LaRosa, first lady Jill Biden’s traveling press secretary during the 2020 campaign. “Hunter and Beau [Biden] and Jill were in the room with the advisers when they were deciding what to do in ‘87.”

Hunter Biden was seen at the White House again on Wednesday, in the audience at a Medal of Honor ceremony. The first son’s presence comes as the White House and President Biden have tried to stop the bleeding since the debate, forcefully insisting that the president is staying in the race. But, Democratic operatives, former aides, and two sitting House Democratic lawmakers have called for Biden to step aside.

“Perhaps more so than recent presidents, Joe Biden relies on his family for advice, guidance, and solace. After a very difficult several days, it would be surprising if he didn’t surround himself with family,” said Biden ally and former Rep. Chris Carney (D-Pa.).

“The president understands that whatever decision he makes about the campaign will impact his family as well. Having their input is a critical part of his decision process,” added Carney, a senior policy adviser at Nossaman.

Biden has called Democratic congressional leadership and governors in recent days to try to reassure his party that he’s up for another four years on the job. He also spoke with his campaign staff and stressed to them that he’s staying on the ticket while White House chief of staff Jeff Zients spoke with White House staff, telling them to keep their heads high.

But Hunter Biden in White House meetings is expected to raise questions, especially after his indictment on federal gun charges just last month. Hunter Biden has drawn the ire of Republicans, with the House GOP focusing on him as part of an impeachment inquiry into Biden, though that has largely stalled in recent months.

LaRosa cited Hunter Biden’s public handling of Republicans during that investigation showcased his political and media savviness, which could be helpful to his father.  

“[Hunter] demonstrated a lot of impressive media skill in his own right, vanquishing House Republicans and sending Jim Comer to the dustbin of history,” he said.

LaRosa added that when he saw reporting indicating Hunter Biden was in a White House meeting, he said, “thank God. Finally, somebody with smart media instincts.” 

Despite the controversy surrounding the first son, some argue it could be an issue that Biden keeps a very close and loyal circle around him while he’s insisting on staying on the 2024 ticket when so many others are asking him to reconsider.

“I think one of the problems with this thing is they don’t have a very wide circle there. And I think the people in the close in circle have lost an enormous amount of credibility with people outside,” said one Democratic lobbyist and donor.

Jill Biden and her potential power has been particularly thrust into the spotlight like never before following the debate, with her role in the president’s decision-making coming into focus. She not only is Biden’s defender-in-chief, she also has made clear at fundraisers and in the media that she thinks he’s the best person for the job.

Sources stress that the first lady and the Biden family are the most influential voice in the president’s ear, especially during chaotic times. Valerie Biden Owens, the president’s sister, is also an influential and loyal confidant for the president who has helped him make decisions throughout his political career.

“I’m not sure who could persuade the president to leave the ticket. It seems like other than his family, I’m not sure there are any outside advisers or other elected officials that would convince him to do otherwise,” a former Clinton administration aide said.

NBC reported this week that Hunter Biden has “popped into” more than one meeting and calls with the president, citing sources familiar with the White House, and that reaction from some senior staff has been, “What the hell is happening?”

One former White House aide described the dynamic to The Hill as “If you go work for Joe Biden, you know he loves his family and they are close to him.”

“So, it’s not a huge surprise that in this moment, he’s turning to his family alongside aides,” the former White House aide said. “His support system is secondary to the question of ‘can he meet this moment?’”


Source: The Hill

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