Home 2024 Elections Video: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11) Says That Post-Debate-Disaster, Democrats Need “Family Therapy...

Video: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11) Says That Post-Debate-Disaster, Democrats Need “Family Therapy Session,” Dialogue to “arrive at an informed decision that makes sense both for President Biden and for the country” [UPDATED]


UPDATE 7/5: More from Rep. Connolly…

  • “I don’t think we know that yet [whether Biden gives Dems the best shot to win in November]… this next week is gonna be critical … I don’t think we have the whole month of July. I think this next week is going to be very consequential.”
  • “What we can’t do is risk losing the White House to Donald Trump … he gets no scrutiny during this period of examination of Joe Biden, scrutiny he richly deserves … we need to spend time focusing on that. Right now we’re not.”


It’s hard to disagree with anything Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA11) said this afternoon on NBC:

  • “Well, all of us saw what we saw last week in the debate. It is not normal and it looked much worse than a bad night. And if we’re going to clarify that, that it most certainly was that and only that, then you’ve got to do two things. Well, we start with a family therapy session. And that has not happened. We need the White House talking to elected Democrats and other Democratic leaders here in Congress and around the country. That has not happened and it NEEDS to happen.”
  • Secondly, there has to be a plan of action for Joe Biden to be Joe Biden –  get out there and show what he did in North Carolina, show what he did in the press conference on the Supreme Court Ruling, on presidential immunity. That was the Joe Biden we eecognize. But you are going to have to spend a lot of time reassuring the public that that was an anomaly and isn’t a characteristic of the president in his 81st year.”
  • “I think there can be [enough time for Biden to get out from under his performance at the debate], yes, but I also think that underscores why we have to have family therapy….I haven’t heard a thing from the White House, not a thing since the debate. I represent, you know, a member of the congressional delegation to a critical state for Joe Biden, Virginia. And you know, we have to carry Virginia’s  13 electoral votes. And paying attention to critical states and elected officials in those states, seems to me to be absolutely top on the list, or ought to be top of the list for the White House political staff, campaign staff, and White House staff in general. And their silence or lack of aggressive communication right now, i think, will lead to more Lloyd Doggetts if they’re not careful.”
  • I think most of my colleagues, like myself, are processing what happened. And we don’t want to make decisions in haste or in panic. Joe Biden is a consequential president, he’s been a friend of mine. In fact, I worked for him for 10 years, I’ve known him for 45. I’m  not going to jettison Joe Biden based on a 90-minute debate. But I do want to be reassured that Joe Biden is capable of doing the job, wants to do the job, and that he can reassure the public to both of those things.”
  • “You know, I can’t answer that [how long I can wait]. Three days and 43 minutes? I don’t know. There has to be a process. And at the end of that process, I think we will know, collectively, what is the right decision.”
  • “I think those are some of the early reactions trying to defend a difficult night and a difficult performance. This is somebody that generates a lot of personal loyalty because of his own character and personal attributes. And so, people are understandably protective of the president on that bad night. But what they have to do once you kind of get over that is allow yourself to be engaged in this sort of therapeutic process with certainly your fellow Democrats, so that we can have a dialogue and arrive at an informed decision that makes sense both for President Biden and for the country.”
  • “It does [concern me that the process of replacing Biden could be messy, divisive, etc.], and I think that’s another reason why we have to have what I call family therapy among the Democratic family. There are so many permutations involving this issue. It’s not a simple proposition, well let’s just replace Joe Biden with somebody else. Well who is that person? How do you do that? How do you deny Joe Biden the nomination when he’s got 3,900+ delegates he earned in a legitimate electoral process. Also, how do you make sure that you’re approaching this with the dignity and respect Joe Biden has earned. And so, I think we have to have that discussion before we rush to judgment about what the next steps are and who’s involved in that.”
  • “It makes me a little leery that we are now going to be subjecting presidential candidates to mental fitness tests and psychology tests. I mean, I think Donald Trump would certainly flunk any kind of psychiatric evaluation if he were to have one. So maybe we should start there. But I do think, however, that there has to be more transparency and more information flowing to the public so we make informed decisions about our leadership.”
  • “I think the threat Trump presents is real politically, in terms of his ability to win. And that’s my north star. My north star in this process is going to be how do we ensure Donald Trump does not get back to the oval office. That’s going to be my north star, and everything else is subordinate to that.”
  • I think there are pockets of conversation happening. They have to be engaged, however, with the White House, And not just to leadership – to rank and file. Otherwise, you’re going to have people having to make decisions individually in their own silo, And that doesn’t help anybody or anything. I respect individual decisions and decisions of conscience. Your reporter talked about 1968, I was in college, I remember that vividly. I was canvassing for then Eugene McCarthy against Lyndon Johnson in Wisconsin. And the reason Lyndon Johnson, among other reasons, got out of the race in March was because he was about to lose the Wisconsin primary. And no sitting president I know of has ever lost a primary before. And so rather than have that humiliation…he decided to pull Out. So it’s is a little bit of a different kind of context and situation.”
  • “I have too much respect for Joe Biden and too much affection to jettison him solely based on a performance in a 90-minute debate.”

P.S. Also check out the interview Rep. Connolly did earlier today, in which he said the following:

“You now have to work harder — a lot harder — to resolve those doubts. Otherwise, this is lethal…You’ve got to get out there like you’ve never done it before, and in an exhaustive way, to reassure people that was indeed a bad night, and that’s all it was.”


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