New York Democrats back Biden as questions about his candidacy linger

President Biden speaks at the “Sunday Lunch” event at the Brookland Baptist Banquet Center, part of the Brookland Baptist Church, in West Columbia, S.C., on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A significant number of New York’s congressional members—as well as state officials–have announced that they are sticking with Joe Biden, despite his shaky performance at last month’s presidential debate against Donald Trump. 

U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Grace Meng, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Gov. Kathy Hochul are among the Democrats in the Empire State who have come out in full support of Biden’s campaign.

Ocasio-Cortez told a gaggle of Washington reporters Monday that she spoke “extensively” to President Biden over the weekend, saying that he “made clear” he is staying in the race.

“The matter is closed,” she said. “He had reiterated that this morning. He has reiterated that to the public. Joe Biden is our nominee. He is not leaving this race. He is in this race and I support him.” 

Gillibrand, New York’s junior senator, has also remained steadfast in her support for the President.  

“I continue to have confidence in President Biden and his ability to beat Donald Trump this November,” she told amNew York Metro in a statement. 

Meng, who represents Queens, issued a statement Monday backing Biden’s bid. 

“​It’s past time we all do what Congressional Democrats have been doing for years,” the six-term Congress member said. “Let’s focus on the work ahead and get ready to beat Trump and MAGA extremists in November by re-electing President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.”

Hochul said Biden is “in it to win it,” following a meeting with fellow governors and the President at the White House on July 3.

“We feel very confident in his abilities,” the governor said. “We talked about the plan and how he’s going to be very focused on issues that matter to Americans, and I felt very confident coming out of this meeting as well.”

As for House Democrat Leader Hakeem Jeffries, he did not respond to requests for comment from amNew York Metro, but told reporters on Monday, “I made clear the day after the debate, publicly, that I support President Joe Biden in the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.” 

Congress Member Jerry Nadler changes course

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler has been on the fence regarding Biden’s bid in the race. The Congress member has argued behind closed doors for Biden to step aside, according to recent reports, but on Tuesday, he appeared to reverse course. 

“He said he’s going to remain in. He’s our candidate and we’re going to support him,” Nadler told reporters

So far, no Congressional Democrat from New York has publicly said they want Biden to step aside, and many, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have remained mum on the issue. 

Democrats from other states, however, are casting doubt about Biden’s presidential abilities. 

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, said on Monday that Biden needs to “prove” he can do the job for another four years before he gets his backing. 

“President Biden has got to prove to the American people — including me — that he’s up to the job for another four years. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do what I’ve always done: Stand up to President Biden when he’s wrong and protect our Montana way of life,” Tester said in a statement shared with Bradley Warren of an NBC affiliate in Billings, Mont.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado shares Tester’s concerns. A spokesperson for the senator said in a Hill article that Biden “must reassure the American people that he can run a vigorous campaign to defeat Donald Trump.”