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Gov. Wes Moore says “I will not” seek 2024 Democratic nomination and says Biden isn’t dropping out

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Washington — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Sunday that he will not seek the Democratic nomination this year and he does not foresee President Biden leaving the race, making clear that the president is staying the course despite the bruising debate performance that sparked concern among some members of the party last week. 

“Joe Biden is not going to take himself out of this race – nor should he,” Moore said on
“Face the Nation,” making clear that he “will not” seek the nomination.   

The Democratic governor, who’s been campaigning in Milwaukee for the president’s reelection bid, said he will “proudly be supporting the president” at the party’s convention in Chicago later this summer. Moore said he will work through November to “make sure [Mr. Biden] gets reelected,” despite suggestions in recent days that the president drop out of the race after the debate raised questions about his ability to serve. Moore, a rising star within the party, has been among a group of names floated should Biden leave the race. 

“Joe Biden is our nominee, Joe Biden is our leader, and Joe Biden has earned — and Joe Biden deserves — the confidence, the respect, and frankly the partnership that we now have to provide to him,” Moore said.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on “Face the Nation,” June 30, 2024.

CBS News

Mr. Biden himself has acknowledged his lackluster performance at Thursday’s debate, saying at a campaign stop the day after that he doesn’t “debate as well as I used to.” At the debate, the 81-year-old president struggled to correct falsehoods from Trump, while delivering rambling answers to key questions in a hoarse voice. In the aftermath of the debate, his campaign has been clear that there are no conversations about the president stepping aside. 

The debate came at a time when many Americans believe the president may be too old for the job. And a new CBS News poll found that since the debate, the number of voters who say that Mr. Biden has the cognitive ability to serve as president has dropped from 35% just weeks ago to 27%. Nearly three quarters of voters say the president shouldn’t be running for reelection, including almost half of Democrats, according to the poll. 

At the same time, views of former President Donald Trump’s cognitive ability aren’t far off. About half of all voters say Trump doesn’t have the cognitive health to serve. But voters generally believed Trump presented his ideas more clearly at the debate, while appearing more confident and presidential.

Moore insisted that “both candidates struggled” at Thursday’s debate, shifting the focus to the former president rather than analyzing the leader of his own party’s performance. 

“So it wasn’t a great night for the president or Donald Trump. But I also do know that performance does matter,” Moore said, contrasting Mr. Biden’s record with the former president’s.

Moore acknowledged that the president “had a tough night,” but said that “when we get knocked down we get back up,” pointing to Mr. Biden’s performance at a campaign event in North Carolina the following day, along with his other duties.

“He got back up and he got back to work,” Moore said. 

When questioned about the president’s ability to serve as compared to younger alternatives within the party, the Maryland governor cited Mr. Biden’s response to the Baltimore bridge collapse earlier this year. Moore said he’s seen the president “in times of trial,” saying he’s seen him be able to be a “remarkable partner to us.”

“I saw when he said that he was going to be with us every step of the way that he is a man of his word. And I respect that, and I admire that and I will always stand by that,” Moore said. “That is why I defend this president, that is why I need another four years.”

For young voters, who make up a crucial voting bloc for Democrats, Moore said they are going to see themselves reflected in “all the people who are going out being the president’s surrogates.”

“I’m the youngest Democratic governor in this country, the only African American governor in America, and we’re out here all the time,” Moore said. “We’re going to the people and we’re making our case to the people as to why this kind of partnership matters.”

Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, also appeared on “Face the Nation” on Sunday and downplayed the importance of Mr. Biden’s debate performance for Americans, pointing to his record instead. Himes said the president’s job is “enormously hard and involves all kinds of things, none of which are standing and doing a debate for 90 minutes on TV.”

“I’m not so cynical as to believe that the American people are going to choose a president based on a 90-minute debate rather than a four-year record of startling legislative achievements and of setting a tone that the rest of the world says ‘wow, you know, America is back to the decent leader that we used to believe that it was prior to the Trump administration,'” he said.  

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