Democratic members of the House of Representatives huddled Tuesday to discuss President Biden’s prospects for reelection and the outlook for congressional races following Biden’s panic-inducing debate performance nearly two weeks ago against former President Donald Trump.

But Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, skipped the meetings even as he faces one of the nation’s most competitive races this fall. Golden has distanced himself from Biden and last week wrote a newspaper column predicting that Trump will win, adding that he’s OK with that.

It was not clear whether Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, attended the meeting of Democratic lawmakers. Spokespeople from her congressional office and her reelection campaign did not respond to questions on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee did not respond to questions about the meeting. Some attendees expressed frustration about the state of the presidential race, according to news reports, while attendees told Politico that House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York and others urged members to unify behind Biden.

During the debate, Biden appeared to be confused and struggled to articulate answers to debate questions, losing his train of thought on at least one occasion. The poor performance only fueled concerns over Biden’s age – he’s 81 – and whether he has the stamina and mental acuity for another campaign and – if he wins – another four-year term in office.

The Washington Post reported that Democrats held two private meetings on Tuesday, one for members in close races this fall who are worried that Biden’s performance could affect other down-ballot races and one for the full Democratic caucus. Both meetings were closed to the media.


Golden campaign spokesperson Mario Moretto said that Golden has not attended a Democratic caucus meeting for nearly three years.

Election 2024 Maine Guns

Rep. Jared Golden in 2022. Maine’s 2nd District congressman didn’t explicitly call for President Biden to withdraw in his op-ed, nor did he offer his support for the president. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

“As the most independent member of his party in the House, Congressman Golden has little need to attend Democratic caucus meetings,” Moretto said. “His door is always open to his colleagues, but he hasn’t attended one since October 2021 and that streak didn’t end today.”

Golden has voted against Biden more than any other House Democrat and has been distancing himself from the president as he campaigns for a fourth term in Congress.

In addition to highlighting his independence, Golden penned an op-ed last week that predicted Trump would beat Biden this fall and resume the presidency, adding “I’m OK with that.” He also downplayed Democrats’ claim that Trump represents a threat to democracy, saying that the nation has withstood wars, unrest and terrorist attacks. And he vowed to work with Trump if it’s in the best interest of the district.

Golden, a former Marine from Lewiston, is being challenged by state Rep. Austin Theriault, a former NASCAR driver from the Aroostook County town of Fort Kent who is finishing his first term as a state representative.

Trump, who carried the 2nd Congressional District by 7 percentage points in 2020, endorsed Theriault early in the Republican primary, helping him cruise to an easy win over his opponent, Rep. Mike Soboleski.


Biden has faced a drumbeat of calls from pundits and a handful of House Democrats to withdraw from the race. Polls since the debate have shown Biden losing ground to Trump, who is poised to accept the Republican nomination at the national convention in Milwaukee that runs from July 14-18.

But Biden has been getting more statements of support, including from progressive champion Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, as well as members of the Black and Hispanic caucuses.

Golden didn’t explicitly call for Biden to withdraw in his op-ed, nor did he offer his support for the Democratic incumbent. Golden only said that he would not vote for Trump and he would work to represent the interests of his constituents, regardless of who becomes president.

Golden refused an interview request from the Press Herald after his op-ed was published. But in an interview with WGME, Golden would not say whether he would vote for Biden this fall. He instead raised doubts that Biden would be at the top of the ticket this fall, and repeated that if he was, he would lose.

“There have been people who have said that it is a legitimate question whether or not the president’s performance last Thursday (at the debate) was just a one-off bad performance or a condition,” Golden said. “And the answer to that question is going to figure very largely in the minds of every single voter in this country – myself included – and I don’t think we know the answer to that question right now.”

Theriault’s campaign has accused Golden of dodging questions about Biden and remaining mostly silent since the June 27 debate.


“Maine voters deserve to know if Jared Golden still supports Joe Biden, but Golden is hiding,” Theriault campaign manager Shawn Roderick said in a statement Tuesday. “Why won’t Golden answer the simple question: Does he still support Joe Biden?”

Moretto did not respond to a question about whether Golden wants Biden to step aside so another Democrat could take on Trump. But Golden told WGME that he opposed any maneuvering by party leaders to choose a new candidate behind closed doors.


Biden, meanwhile, insists he’s staying in the race. He batted aside concerns during a televised interview with ABC on Friday. On Monday, he sent a letter to Congressional Democrats reiterating his intent to remain in the race, highlighting his record and the fact he won nearly 90% of the delegates in the primaries, which were open to anyone who wanted the nomination.

“I feel a deep obligation to the faith and the trust the voters of the Democratic Party have placed in me to run this year,” Biden wrote. “It was their decision to make. Not the press, not the pundits, not the big donors, not any selected group of individuals, no matter how well-intentioned. The voters – and the voters alone – decide the nominee of the Democratic Party. How can we stand for democracy in our nation if we ignore it in our own party? I cannot do that. I will not do that.”

Biden said he wouldn’t be running if he didn’t think he would beat Trump and he followed the letter with a spirited phone interview on MSNBC, in which he challenged any concerned Democrat to challenge his nomination at the convention next month.


“I’m getting frustrated by the elites in the party,” Biden said. “Any of these guys that don’t think I should run, run against me. Announce for president, challenge me at the convention.”

A challenge at the convention, scheduled from Aug. 19-24 in Chicago, would be difficult. Most of the delegates are already committed to Biden because of the primary results. And Democratic leaders have said they plan to hold a virtual roll call to officially nominate Biden and Harris before the convention so their names can appear on the Ohio ballot, which has an Aug. 7 deadline.

Democrats – even those who called for Biden to step aside – appear to be beginning to accept that Biden will be their nominee, The Washington Post reported.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, privately called on Biden to step aside two days ago but said the ongoing concerns are “beside the point,” because “he’s going to be our nominee, and we all have to support him,” the Post reported.

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