President Biden holds hands with Gov. Janet Mills as they walk with first lady Jill Biden, right, and local medical staff before addressing the nation at Just-In-Time Recreation in Lewiston shortly after the mass shooting in October. Biden also met with the families of those killed in the tragedy during his visit to Maine. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Gov. Janet Mills is urging President Biden to reassure Maine voters in the wake of last week’s poor debate performance, telling him that it was “difficult to watch” and that she is looking forward to the president demonstrating “the same heart, determination and vigor that he brought” to a meeting of two dozen Democratic governors Wednesday night.

Mills was among the governors who met with Biden as he tries to reassure supporters after his stumbles in the debate last week fueled calls for him to drop out of the race for a second term over concerns about his age.

“We had a candid and constructive conversation, in which I told him that I cared deeply about him, that I believe he has been an excellent leader for our country, and that I support him,” Mills said in a prepared statement released after the meeting, which Mills attended virtually from Maine. “When he was elected, it was a breath of fresh air during a very dark time. He helped pull us out of the grips of the pandemic and he has passed some of the most consequential laws in decades – laws that are helping Maine people every single day.

“I also conveyed to the president that last week’s debate was difficult to watch, that some Maine people had since expressed concerns to me about his campaign, including anxiety over whether he could win, and that it would be good for him to reassure the voters of Maine, just as he was reassuring us.”

The list of participants included Mills, Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, who chairs the Democratic Governors Association, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, and others.

Mills said Biden told the governors he intended to win the November election.


“The president made clear to me and the rest of the governors that he was in it to win it and that he would be making his case to the American people – and I believe him,” she said.

The meeting came as the president is looking to shore up support for his campaign following last Thursday’s debate debacle against former President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democratic lawmaker in Congress to call Biden to drop out of the race, followed by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona on Wednesday. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine published an opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News Tuesday saying he believes Biden will lose.

Biden’s campaign has not given any indication that he plans to leave the race, although the New York Times reported Wednesday that the president has told a key ally he is weighing whether to continue with his candidacy. Campaign officials said the claim was false and Biden vowed on Wednesday to keep running for reelection.

“Over the next several months, and especially in the coming days, I look forward to the president demonstrating to the American people the same heart, determination, and vigor that he brought to our conversation this evening – qualities that I have come to know well in my time with him over the years,” Mills said. “I stand with President Biden and his record of accomplishment for Maine people over the chaos and ineptitude that Donald Trump would rain down on the American people.”

In a public statement on Biden’s candidacy Friday – the day after the debate – Mills said that while the debate wasn’t the president’s best performance, she wasn’t judging him on one event but rather on the totality of his record.

“I have served under both President Trump and President Biden,” Mills said. “I have met and spoken with both of them. What I can unequivocally say to Maine people is that President Biden is a leader who has demonstrated character, competence, and compassion and that President Trump is not such a person; that President Biden cares about the people of Maine and that President Trump does not; and that President Biden has done more for Maine people in these past three and half years than President Trump ever thought about doing for our state.”

“President Biden’s character, his record of accomplishment, and his vision for a better Maine and a better America are why I continue to stand with him,” she added.

Related Headlines

Join the Conversation

Please sign into your Press Herald account to participate in conversations below. If you do not have an account, you can register or subscribe. Questions? Please see our FAQs.