Biden is not considering dropping out of the race, White House insists

A NYT/Siena poll has Trump's lead increasing to 49%-41% among registered voters.

President Joe Biden is not considering stepping down, the White House said Wednesday, as it furiously did damage control amid Democrats' mounting concerns about the 2024 election and Biden's ability to carry out his campaign after his shaky debate performance.

Facing rapid-fire questions for the second day in a row, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked point-blank during Wednesday's briefing if Biden was considering that option.

"Absolutely not," Jean-Pierre responded. "And you heard that, I believe, directly from the campaign as well."

President Joe Biden arrives to speak during a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Jean-Pierre was also pressed on recent reports from the New York Times and others that Biden is evaluating whether to stay in the race.

Sources told ABC News on Wednesday that Biden has privately acknowledged that the next few days are critical to determining whether he can stay in the race for a second term.

"That is absolutely false," she said. "We asked the president ... the president said it is -- no, it is absolutely false. That is coming directly from him."

The White House and campaign are mounting a full-court press to try to quell concerns from last Thursday's showdown, though some allies have wondered why Biden didn't move more quickly and forcefully to reassure the public immediately after last Thursday.

Biden will meet with Democratic lawmakers and governor at the White House later Wednesday evening, nearly a week after his faceoff with Donald Trump on stage in Atlanta.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is attending Wednesday's White House meeting with Democrats and is viewed as a possible replacement if Biden should step aside, told CNN the president "needs to communicate more" if he plans to rectify his poor debate performance.

The White House on Tuesday and Wednesday announced a flurry of new events and interviews they say will have Biden taking his message directly to the American people.

Jean-Pierre has repeatedly acknowledged Biden had a "bad night" but that their focus now was on turning the page with campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, local radio interviews and a television interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Friday.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre listens during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, July 3, 2024.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

A New York Times/Siena College poll published Wednesday, and conducted after the debate, found Trump with a growing lead over Biden to 49% to 41% among registered voters.

The poll also asked voters if Biden or Trump should remain the nominees of their respective parties. When asked that about Biden, 31% of registered voters said he should remain the nominee while 60% said there should be a new candidate -- results that did not vary much from just before the debate.

As for Trump, 42% of voters said he should be the GOP's nominee while 51% said it should be someone different.

The day after the debate, a more fiery Biden spoke at a rally in North Carolina and he held campaign fundraisers in New York and New Jersey.

After that, he spent the rest of the weekend in Delaware behind closed doors with family and advisers. Since returning to Washington on Monday, Biden's delivered brief remarks on the Supreme Court's immunity ruling and about extreme heat but often spoke with teleprompters and took no questions from reporters.

In the meantime, pressure grew within the Democratic Party on Biden, escalating dramatically on Tuesday when Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett became the first member of Congress to call on the president to withdraw from the race.

Over the past 24 hours, in damage control-mode, Biden's spoken to House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic Rep. James Clyburn and Sen. Chris Coons, ABC New has learned.

A top Biden aide told ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang the president's message to those congressional leaders is that he still has a path to victory, that the race hasn't changed much, and that his campaign still has the money and organization.

In addition to Biden's outreach, chief of staff Jeff Zients held an all-staff call on Wednesday on the "importance of us all to keep doing the work and executing on the mission together as a team," according to a White House official.

Sources on the call described it to ABC News as a "straightforward pep talk" with a message that the focus should be on "execution of the president's vision and continuing the work serving the country."

The sources reported Zients said there is going to be a lot of chatter in the coming days, but advised staff to "tune it out" and focus on supporting one another and the meaningful work they have to do. They said Zients was the only person to speak and took no questions.

President Joe Biden attends the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, June 27, 2024.
Marco Bello/Reuters

The Biden campaign is also seeking to tamp down internal party concerns about the president's standing in the race after his debate performance.

A campaign memo sent to congressional allies and obtained by ABC News cited internal campaign polling before and after Biden's debate with Trump showing a tight race between the two candidates, within the margin of error.

"This tracks with the vast majority of public polls since the debate: The President maintained his support among his 2020 voters and voters' opinions were not changed," the campaign wrote.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also called into an all-staff campaign meeting on Wednesday to give a pep talk, according to multiple source familiar with the discussion.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Harris joined an all-staff campaign call to try and reassure their team that they are putting their heads down and moving forward, conceding the past few days have been "tough," several sources familiar confirmed to ABC News.

Biden was "unequivocal" on the call that he was staying in the race, sources said.

"I'm in this race to the end and we're going to win because when Democrats unite, we will always win. Just as we beat Donald Trump in 2020, we're going to beat him again in 2024," Biden said on the call, according to those familiar with the discussion.

The sources said Harris told campaign aides, "We will not back down. We will follow our President’s lead. We will fight, and we will win."

Biden wrapped his remarks speaking about the stakes of the election.

"There is no one I'd rather be in this battle with than all of you. So, let's link arms. Let's get this done. You, me, the vice president. Together," Biden told his team, the sources said.

All this before Biden meets with lawmakers at the White House. Among those who will be in attendance are Pritzker, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

ABC News' Oren Oppenheim, Rachel Scott, Benjamin Siegel, Katherine Faulders, Molly Nagle, Allison Pecorin and Brittany Shepherd contributed to this report.