As Biden rallies in Wisconsin, Democratic voters want to evaluate him for themselves

"I just want to see how clear he is," one voter told ABC News.

July 5, 2024, 3:39 PM

MADISON, Wis. -- Benjamin Rogall, a 61-year-old retired physician and Democrat, did not watch last week's presidential debate, but the succeeding eruption of conversations about President Joe Biden's fitness for office made him want to see the 81-year-old president for himself during his rally Friday in the battleground state of Wisconsin.

"I think what people were saying about the debate, you know, that does make me a little more interested in seeing him live in person," Rogall told ABC News as he entered the Madison, Wisconsin, school building where Biden held a rally Friday afternoon.

"I just want to see how clear he is and convince me that he's got what it takes," Rogall said, adding that he would vote for the Democratic nominee, whether that person is Biden or someone else.

Benjamin Rogall, a Democrat, spoke with ABC News ahead of President Joe Biden’s rally in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 5, 2024.
Will McDuffie/ABC News

The Democratic Party has been shaken for the past week by public calls by some Democratic donors and elected officials for Biden to step aside after his halting debate performance. The debate performance has led to some in the Democratic Party to call for Biden to end his campaign. The White House has repeated this week that Biden is not considering stepping down.

During the Wisconsin rally, Biden addressed the calls for him to end his campaign after his debate performance.

"I am running and I am going to win again," Biden said, later adding "I am staying in the race."

Wisconsin is a key battleground state that both Biden and former President Donald Trump are targeting to help them win the White House in November. Biden won Wisconsin by a very small margin in 2020 -- about a half a percentage point over Trump.

President Joe Biden at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., on July 5, 2024.
POOL via ABC News

After the debate, voters are looking forward to an opportunity to hear from Biden. Voters nationwide will hear from the president later in the day when his sit-down interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos airs on Friday. The first excerpts will air on "World News Tonight" and then the interview will be broadcast in its entirety in a prime-time ABC network special on Friday evening at 8 p.m. ET.

Voters in Madison, who, as rally-goers are on principle some of the party's most loyal supporters, had no doubts they would vote for the Democratic nominee in November. While some expressed complete support for Biden, most acknowledged a need for the president to quell the doubts he is facing.

"If that's what he wants to do, and if he chooses to do that -- right now he's the candidate, so I'll support the candidate -- but in the bigger picture, if he chooses that, that's his choice," Jonathan Triggs, a Democrat and 40-year-old law enforcement officer in Dane County, told ABC News of the possibility that Biden steps down from the ticket.

Jaya Sharma, a Madison lawyer, said, "I'm giving him another chance, the president. That's why I'm here, to see how he performs and also if there is another viable candidate, then I'll just support them, because regardless of who is on the ticket, they have my support."

Some voters, such as 66-year-old Kenosha resident Nancy Locante, rejected any discussion of replacing Biden.

"That talk needs to stop," said Locante, who said she is a Democrat. "This is what it is. Joe's always had our back; we have to have his. This is a distraction that is not needed at this time."

The debate was "a tad alarming," Locante acknowledged before adding that the president's performance at a North Carolina rally the following day encouraged her.

President Joe Biden speaks during a presidential debate with Republican candidate, former President Donald Trump, in Atlanta, June 27, 2024.
Brian Snyder/Reuters

A common sentiment among Wisconsin Democrats was the threat they say Trump poses to the country.

"Honestly, for the people that I talk to a lot, the more concerning thing was, 'We're terrified of having Trump's dictatorial nature,' and that was really on display, completely, during the debate," William Garcia, the Democratic Chair of La Crosse County, told ABC News.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Jaya Sharma's name.