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Biden Visits East Hampton in Wake of Rough Debate

Wed, 07/03/2024 - 12:43

At donor event here, he struck hopeful tone

President Biden appeared at an East Hampton fund-raiser on June 29 alongside his wife, Jill.
Jeff Williams

On Saturday, two days after President Biden and former President Trump met in Atlanta for the first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle, the president and Jill Biden were in East Hampton for a fund-raiser at the home of Barry and Lizanne Rosenstein, co-hosted by several high-powered business executives and celebrities, all the while hearing calls from prominent members of the Democratic Party to step aside and let someone else lead the ticket.

Traffic on the roads and the golf course was halted as the presidential motorcade passed by the Maidstone Club in East Hampton on Saturday afternoon. Durell Godfrey

The debate, hosted by CNN, was the earliest televised one in American history and had been seen by the Biden campaign as the starting gun in the race against former President Trump and the best opportunity to assuage concerns over the president’s age and health.

At several post-debate events — including the East Hampton fund-raising stop — the president has acknowledged his poor debate performance but maintained that he still has the best odds to win in November.

Jeff Williams, an East Hampton resident who attended the fund-raiser, described the event as “an elegant yet simple gathering where we discussed the importance of the Nov. 5 election over iced tea and lemonades.”

While recognizing that his debate performance wasn’t up to par, the Bidens “made an impassioned case for their love of country and one another,” Mr. Williams said.

According to CNN’s post-debate fact checking, former President Trump lied more than 30 times when talking about his record and his plans for a second term. Additionally, his answers strayed from the original question so frequently that the moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, repeatedly had to ask questions twice.

Multiple post-debate breakdowns, including by MSNBC and The New York Times, stated the president had one job during the debate: He needed to show the country, and his party, that he is still capable of running for and carrying out the job of president of the United States. From trailing off in the middle of speaking, to what will be the famous “we beat Medicare” response, and generally not jumping on and refuting the many lies of former President Trump, the consensus was that he failed to convince.

Some greeted the president with signs calling on him to drop out of the race. Durell Godfrey

President Biden, 81, reportedly had a cold during the debate. It is clear, however, in national post-debate coverage, that Democrats are in panic mode. Many panelists across CNN and MSNBC reported being contacted as early as minutes into the debate with concerns from top Democratic strategists.

Since the day of the debate, according to the Associated Press, President Biden’s campaign has raised more than $33 million. Tickets to Saturday’s fund-raiser in East Hampton ranged in price from $3,300 to $250,000, according to an invitation reviewed by The Star.

Gordon Herr, the chairman of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, is not among those calling for him to step aside. “My position right now is that Biden’s been a great president who had a bad night,” he said. “Trump is a pathological liar and I’d rather have someone who has a bad night. I’m not abandoning Biden. I’m completely in support of him.”

While Mr. Herr did not attend the fund-raiser in East Hampton, he did confirm that John Avlon, the Democratic candidate who overwhelmingly won the primary race in New York’s First Congressional District last week, was present for it. Mr. Avlon’s campaign spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment this week.

The extra protection that comes with a presidential visit included the Coast Guard stationed off the ocean beach in East Hampton on Saturday. Durell Godfrey

Mr. Herr’s comments stood in stark contrast to an email sent out Sunday by the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee that referred to President Biden’s debate performance as “troubling” and addressed what it said was “the elephant in the room.”

“While it’s true that those 90 minutes don’t define Biden, who has been an exceptionally effective and consequential president,” the committee’s email read, “they did raise questions at best and confirm our fears at worst.”

Anna Skrenta, the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee chairwoman, could not be reached this week for further comment.



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