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Political Rhetoric: Rhetorical devices

  • Logos, ethos, pathos
  • Rhetorical devices
  • Famous speeches and rhetorical strategies
  • Sources of famous speeches

Common rhetorical devices

Successful speakers, especially in political contexts, need to appeal to attitudes and emotions that are already within the listeners. When the listeners perceive that their beliefs are understood and supported, the speaker has created connections between the listener and the policy that they wish to communicate.To be persuasive, speakers employ a variety of rhetorical strategies. Some common strategies include:

Metaphors - Metaphors are linguistic symbols which give concrete labels to abstract ideas. This is possible because of the perceived similarity between objects and concepts as regards particular features that one wants to convey. The SUNSHINE  of a smile  is an example of a metaphor, where it is understood that a smile brings out the same feelings of warmth and well-being as sunshine does.

Metonymies - A metonymy is when an idea or a concept is replaced by a single word or feature that is connected to it. The foundation of metonymies is conceptual as is also the case with metaphors. They can be useful in political speeches as they reduce or increase responsibility. For instance, using the metonymy The White House instead of the President's name reduces the President's personal responsibility. In contrast, the personal responsibility is increased by using a ruler of a state's name when referring to the government or all the citizens in a country.

Analogies - Analogies, where contemporary situations are compared with historical events or myths are common features in political speeches. Ideas and concepts are intended to be clarified in an analogy by comparing them with supposedly well-known phenomena. A characteristic of Martin Luther King's speeches, was drawing analogies between the situation of the African Americans and the oppression of the Hebrews in Egypt.

Pronouns - Pronouns are words substituting for nouns, in particular I or we. I clearly declares who is responsible while we makes the status of responsibility less clear or makes an appeal to shared interests.

Active vs passive voice - Active voice  demands an active subject - ex. White people suppress the rights of people of color - while passive voice does not require an actor - ex. The rights of people of color are often suppressed.

Sound-bites - A sound-bite is a short piece from a speech usually sent to media so that it can be reported as quickly as possible. The sound-bite is chosen because it will sum up the content of a longer paragraph in fewer words, suitable for a headline.

Alliteration - Alliteration is the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words. It is used to place emphasis on a group of words or call attention to these words. ex. Deliberate and deadly.

Word-repetition - Repeating certain phrases contributes towards making the ideas contained in them seem 'common sense.' In long speeches word-repetition can be used to hold the speech together, but also to emphasize moral values

Three-part lists - A variant of repetition is the so-called three-part lists, when new ideas or pieces of information are presented in three parts. The first part initiates an argument, the second part emphasizes or responds to the first and the third part is a reinforcement of the first two and a sign that the argument is completed, assisting the audience by suggesting when it is appropriate to applaud. For example: freedom and democracy and peace.

Contrastive pairs - Contrastive pairs are used to point out a difference between two ideas, stating what something is and then contrasting it with what it is not, or a difference in time; as in between then and now.

Parallel structure - Parallel structure is when the same grammatical structure is used within a sentence or paragraph to show that two or more ideas have equal importance.

Bookending - When a speaker bookends, they begin and end their speech with the same idea/theme in order to emphasize that idea/theme.

For examples of more rhetorical strategies, consult A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices

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  • Last Updated: Feb 13, 2020 11:02 AM
  • URL: https://library.centre.edu/POL120Fall2019

Lesson Plan: Rhetorical Devices

“democratic debate & rhetorical devices”.

The first Democratic presidential debate is scheduled for October 13. Political speeches and debates provide opportunities to explore current events and the political process with your students. They can also illustrate the power of strong persuasive writing and public speaking skills. This lesson spans two class periods. On the first day, students will identify and analyze rhetorical devices in famous political speeches by Frederick Douglas, President Lincoln, President Roosevelt and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For homework, students will research a contemporary issue. On the second day, students will take a stance on that issue by writing and delivering a political speech using one or more of the rhetorical devices they’ve studied.

rhetorical devices in a political speech quiz

  • Identify and analyze rhetorical devices in historic speeches
  • Write and deliver an argumentative speech using one or more rhetorical devices
  • Flocabulary Frederick and Abraham video
  • Flocabulary FDR Speech video
  • Flocabulary Civil Rights video
  • Flocabulary Public Speaking video
  • Rhetorical devices worksheet
  • Lined paper
  • Completed rhetorical device worksheet
  • A political speech that uses 1 or more rhetorical devices and makes an argument about a current-day issue
  • Two class periods
  • As a warm-up, have students discuss the recent or upcoming presidential debates. You might ask which candidate they feel is the most persuasive and why. You might also show a clip of a candidate using a rhetorical device that students are familiar with, such as hyperbole or parallelism, and discuss if and how that device makes the speech more compelling.
  • Explain that rhetorical devices are techniques that authors and speakers use to persuade readers and listeners. These techniques may appeal to logic, emotions and ethics.
  • Explain that famous public speeches are great examples of how rhetorical devices can make an argument more persuasive. Hand out the rhetorical devices worksheet.
  • Watch any/all of our videos that feature excerpts from famous speeches. These include Frederick and Abraham , FDR's Speech and Civil Rights . Read the infoboxes and discuss the historical context for each speech. You may want to read the speech in its entirety.
  • For each speech, name and define one or more of the rhetorical devices used. Students should record the names and definitions on their worksheets. You may focus on any of the rhetorical devices used but a suggestion from each is below: Frederick Douglas — Analogy : a similarity or comparison of the relationship between two different things. President Lincoln — Allusion : a direct or indirect reference to something which is presumably commonly known, such as an event, book, myth, place or work of art. President Roosevelt — Paradox : a statement that appears to be self-contradictory or opposed to common sense but upon closer inspection contains some degree of truth or validity. Dr. King — Anaphora : Repeating the word or words at the beginning of a line, clause or sentence.
  • Working alone or in partners, students should complete their worksheet by finding examples of each rhetorical device and describing the effect it has on the reader or listener.
  • Students will share their answers with the class, adding examples to their worksheets that they may have missed and discussing the effect of each rhetorical device.
  • For homework: Students should research a contemporary issue. Explain that they will be writing and delivering an argumentative speech on this issue in the next class period.
  • Students should take out their homework and share the issues they chose to research.
  • Explain that students will now have the chance to apply one or more of the rhetorical devices to their own argumentative writing.
  • Go over the steps of writing a speech. You might show our Public Speaking video to help review this process.
  • Students will research their chosen topic further, using the article links in the Week in Rap and other sources. They should take notes so that they can form a well-supported argument on the issue.
  • Students will draft a short (2-3 minute) speech. Their speech must argue one side of their chosen issue and include at least one rhetorical device discussed in class.
  • Have students revise their speech and practice reading their speeches with partners. Remind them to speak slowly, make eye contact and not to read directly from their notes.
  • After practicing, students will deliver their speeches to the class.
  • After each speech, the class should identify the rhetorical device(s) used and describe its effect.
  • Make it a debate! Determine the list of topics and assign students a stance to take. Rather than delivering their arguments as a speech, students will debate the issues like the candidates do.
  • Become speechwriters! Have students choose a presidential candidate, research his or her campaign platform, and write a short speech about a campaign issue from that candidate’s perspective.

Do You Know About Rhetorical Devices?


This is a multiple choice quiz on rhetorical devices, it is simply asking you to choose the correct word for the correct definition.

What is the term for the skill of convincing someone using words and language techniques such as alliteration, metaphor, and other techniques?



Rate this question:

A similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based is which of the following rhetorical devices?

An implied comparison between two unlike things is which of the following rhetorical dveices.


A figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared using like or as is which of the following rhetorical devices?


To make a point a point by exaggerating is which of the following rhetorical dveices?


A statement that is not good enough to explain how good, bad, or impressive something really is?



Using a word or phrase pattern that are similar to  create emphasis is which of the following rhetorical devices?

To call attention to something by making a big contrast between two things is which of the following rhetorical devices.


A statement that seems impossible because the ideas are opposites, but have an element of truth is which of the following rhetorical devices?

To illustrate an idea, feeling, etc by describing is which of the following rhetorical devices, to give authority to an idea by making an association with something the reader knows is which rhetorical device, one makes fun of something while the other criticizes something by copying its style is which of the following rhetorical devices.





A story told in order to give an example, to make something real or more is which of the following devices?

A question asked to make a point, not that you want an answer is which of the following rhetorical devices.

Rhetorical Question

An abusive attack is which of the following rheorical devices?

When a word or phrase can be used as a substitute for another phrase because they are closely related is which of the following rhetorical devices, when a part of somethin is used to represent the whole is what rhetorical device, giving an uliving, unhumane thing human characteristics is which of the following rhetorical devices, talking to someone who is not there, dead, not human is which rhetorical device, the repetition of initial phrases at the beginning of a sentence is which of the following rhetorical devices, saying one thing meaning another verbal, situational, or dramatic is which of the following rhetorical devices, using one word to govern two parts of a sentence is which of the following rhetorical devices, a phrase that uses confusion for rhetorical humor is which of the following rhetorical devices.

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Rhetorical Devices Quiz

Test your knowledge of rhetorical devices with this quiz. Learn about the purpose of ethos, identify examples of pathos, and understand the concept of logos.

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Questions and Answers

What is the purpose of ethos.

To appeal to the credibility or trustworthiness of the speaker

Which of the following is an example of pathos?

A commercial that shows a family reuniting after being apart for a long time

What is logos?

An appeal to the logic and reason of the audience

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  • Literary Terms

Rhetoric Quiz

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1. Which of the following is not one of Aristotle’s three rhetorical methods?

2. rhetoric can easily be found in….

a. Political speeches

b. Advertisements

c. School essays

d. All of the above

3. The main purpose of rhetoric is…

a. Persuasion

b. Emotional appeal

c. Inspiration

d. None of the above

4. 4. An argument based purely on emotions would be…

a. Bad rhetoric

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Biden faced a low bar in his first post-debate interview. It’s not certain he cleared it

President Joe Biden said his disastrous debate performance last week was a “bad episode” and there were “no indications of any serious condition” in an ABC interview.


President Joe Biden responds to questions from the traveling press as he arrives at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Friday, July 5, 2024, from a campaign rally in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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President Joe Biden speaks to reporters on the tarmac before departing at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis., following a campaign visit, Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Joe Biden boards Air Force One to depart at Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis., following a campaign visit, Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

NEW YORK (AP) — With the survival of his candidacy in question, Joe Biden sat down with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday for one of the most important interviews of the Democratic president’s decades-long political career.

The 22-minute sit-down came a full eight days after Biden’s disastrous debate performance , in which more than 50 million people watched the 81-year-old struggle to complete sentences or respond to basic questions about his campaign. Far fewer people watched the ABC interview, of course, but the audience included many of the elected officials, donors and political strategists who are actively deciding whether to help rescue — or end — Biden’s candidacy in the coming days. Top Biden aides have been pressing elected Democrats not to go public with their concerns.

The president and his team were hopeful that this first interview would help rally his party and generate momentum for the long road ahead. It’s unclear if he was successful.

Here are some key takeaways:

Biden faced a low bar after his debate

At this point, every Biden answer, interview and speech will serve as a Rorschach test of sorts to voters, who consistently tell pollsters that they’re worried about his age. And if people were looking for further signs of trouble, they were easy to find.


Biden performed better than he did on the debate stage. There were also flashes of strength as the president talked up his record, vowed not to leave the race and took shots at Donald Trump , whom he repeatedly described as a “pathological liar.” Biden also referred to Trump at one point as a “congenital liar.”

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But he needed to do much more than clear the incredibly low bar he set on national television last week. And the ABC interview had several examples of awkward pauses, garbled words and moments where he meandered.

In one of the opening answers of the interview, Biden struggled to explain clearly whether he was aware of how bad his debate performance was as it was happening in real time. He jumped from his preparation to polling to Trump’s lies during the debate to not blaming anyone.

Trump allies seized on another Biden response suggesting he wasn’t sure if he rewatched his debate performance. “I don’t think so,” Biden said.

He said only ‘the Almighty’ could talk him out of running

Pressed over and over on whether he would step aside, Biden didn’t offer the slightest hint that he might bow to pressure within his party and leave the presidential race.

He refused even to entertain the possibility. Actually, he offered only one exception: “If the Lord Almighty comes down and tells me that, I might do that.”

That’s even as Stephanopoulos presented him with various data points and shared “the prevailing sentiment” from his conversations with party officials. “They are worried about you and the country. And they don’t think you can win. They want you to go with grace,” the journalist said.

Biden pushed back.

“The vast majority are not where those folks are,” he said. “Have you ever seen a time when elected officials running for office aren’t a little worried?”

He took the blame — and dismissed questions about his health

The bottom line is that Biden does not have a good explanation for his dismal debate performance.

In the interview, he called it “a bad episode,” but said there was no indication of a “more serious condition.” Instead, he said he simply had “a really bad cold.” When pressed again, he said, “I just had a bad night.”

He also didn’t blame anyone but himself, even as whispers have surfaced in recent days about his staff and those who coordinated his preparations.

Such an answer, of course, may do little to win over those who are deeply concerned about his physical and mental competence. He also refused to agree to undergo any medical testing that might further assuage such concerns.

Specifically, Stephanopoulos asked whether Biden would agree to an “independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognitive tests.” He asked more than once when Biden didn’t answer directly.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test,” Biden said. “Everything I do. Not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world.”

It was not an easy interview

If Biden’s aides picked Stephanopoulos for the president’s first major post-debate interview hoping he might go easy on him, they were wrong.

Stephanopoulos, who worked as an aide to former President Bill Clinton decades ago, peppered the Democratic president with tough questions and blunt truths, albeit with a soft tone.

When Biden suggested he had recently drawn big crowds, Stephanopoulos retorted: “I don’t think you want to play the crowd game. Donald Trump can draw big crowds.”

Biden appeared flustered at times.

The president paused for an extra beat when Stephanopoulos asked whether he knew “how badly it was going” during the debate. Later, he paused again when Stephanopoulos asked whether he was acting like Trump by “putting his personal interests ahead of the national interest” by staying in the race.

In another exchange, Biden asked Stephanopoulos whether polling is accurate as it used to be.

It was meant to be a rhetorical question. But the interviewer quickly answered.

“I don’t think so, but I think when you look at all the polling data right now, it shows that he’s certainly ahead in the popular vote, probably even more ahead in the battleground states,” Stephanopoulos said of Trump. “And one of the other key factors there is, it shows that in many of the battleground states, the Democrats who are running for Senate and the House are doing better than you are.”

Biden didn’t ask many other rhetorical questions.

One interview won’t fix the damage

Even before the interview was over, it was clear it would take much more to win over a party that is suddenly open to Biden alternatives just four months before Election Day.

At roughly the same time ABC released the first interview clip, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., became the fourth Democratic member of Congress to call on Biden to leave the race.

“To prevent utter catastrophe,” Quigley said on MSNBC, “step down and let someone else do this.”

Democrats are being encouraged by the White House and the president’s campaign not to go public with their concerns about Biden’s viability or electability, according to a Democrat granted anonymity to discuss the matter.

Another Democrat who watched said they found Biden to be shaky and predicted more will call on him to leave the race.

Biden, for his part, refused to entertain the possibility that congressional leaders might confront him in the coming days and ask him to step aside. But as Stephanopoulos said repeatedly, that is indeed a very real possibility. Earlier this week, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia reached out to fellow senators to discuss whether to ask Biden to exit the race.

Biden said Warner “is a good man” but brought up the Virginian’s own previous considerations for a presidential run.

Asked how he would feel come next January if he ultimately lost the race, Biden’s answer may not inspire confidence.

“As long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about,” he said.

Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report.

rhetorical devices in a political speech quiz

Rep. Pat Ryan Becomes 10th Congress Member Calling For Biden Replacement: Here’s The Full List

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Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., on Wednesday joined nine other Democratic lawmakers urging Biden to step aside in the presidential race—as calls from within the party for Biden to drop his re-election bid continue to trickle in despite his insistence he’s staying in the contest.

First Presidential Debate; Biden vs Trump

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump participate in the first presidential debate ... [+] at CNN Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on June 27, 2024. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., tweeted Wednesday Biden is “no longer the best candidate to defeat Trump,” and asked him to step aside “to deliver on his promise to be a bridge to a new generation of leaders.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., predicted Tuesday on CNN Trump “is on track . . . to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide,” stopping short of calling on Biden to step aside and adding that “the White House, in the time since that disastrous debate . . . has done nothing to really demonstrate they have a plan to win this election.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J. , urged Biden not to run for reelection and “help lead us through a process toward a new nominee” in a statement Tuesday, saying the “stakes are too high” for a second Trump presidency, making him the ninth elected Democrat to call on Biden to step aside.

Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Mark Takano, D-Calif., and Joe Morelle, D-N.Y., all said Biden should withdraw from the race at a discussion of Democratic lawmakers Sunday, The New York Times and NBC News reported, citing sources with knowledge of the talks—though Nadler later walked back his push for Biden to drop out.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., called on Biden to step down from the race after Biden’s sit-down interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos citing both Biden’s poor debate performance and his “lack of a forceful response” in the week since the debate—Biden once again claimed in that interview the debate was a “bad episode” and not a sign of a condition, and refused to take a cognitive test.

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. , argued Biden should drop out of the race in an interview with MSNBC ’s Chris Hayes, saying the “only thing” Biden has left to cement his legacy and “prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this.”

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. : Moulton lamented he no longer has confidence Biden could defeat former President Donald Trump in the November election, telling Boston NPR station WBUR Biden should “step aside to let new leaders rise up.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas: Doggett was the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to push for Biden to step aside last week, explaining he “had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum,” but Biden instead “failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz. , joined Doggett as the second sitting congressional Democrat calling on Biden to step down, telling The New York Times Biden has a “responsibility” to remove himself from the race.

Julian Castro : The Obama-era secretary of housing and urban development and early 2020 Democratic primary candidate argued Biden should “absolutely” take himself out of the race, saying Vice President Kamala Harris should take over on the Democratic ticket.

Former Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio: Biden’s former opponent for the 2020 nomination said he believes Harris is the party’s “best path forward” in a Newsweek op-ed , calling Harris an opportunity for “generational change.”

Wealthy Biden supporters: Billionaires Christy Walton, Michael Novogratz and Reed Hastings—all of whom have given to pro-Biden or anti-Trump groups at various points—have urged Biden to step aside, while Mark Cuban has said Democrats should assess whether another person can step in as the nominee.

The New York Times Editorial Board: “To serve his country, President Biden should leave the race” the left-leaning panel declared in a headline the day after the debate, followed by similar calls from the editorial boards of The Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Boston Globe.

Thomas Friedman: Acknowledging his friendship with Biden and describing how he wept while watching what he called a “heartbreaking” debate, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist wrote that Biden “has no business running for re-election” and the Democratic Party should conduct a new “open process in search of a Democratic presidential nominee.”

Nicholas Kristof: In a column published just hours after the debate ended, fellow New York Times columnist Kristof wrote that Biden’s debate performance “reinforced the narrative” he is too old to serve as president, and urged the president to announce his retirement before the convention, giving his delegates the chance to select another Democratic nominee, such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown or Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Paul Krugman: “The best president of my life needs to withdraw,” was the headline on a third New York Times columnist’s plea , with Krugman acknowledging “maybe some Biden loyalists will consider this a betrayal, given how much I have supported his policies, but I fear that we need to recognize reality.”

David Remnick: The editor of the New Yorker wrote that Biden appeared to “wander into senselessness onstage,” and that remaining on the ticket “would be an act not only of self-delusion but of national endangerment.”

David Ignatius: Reiterating a view he expressed in a September column that Biden should not run, The Washington Post foreign affairs columnist wrote in a post-debate piece that Biden has been insulated by his close circle of aides and confidants, including his wife, Jill Biden, who have dismissed calls that he should step aside and “have been protective—to a fault.”

Mark Leibovich: The Atlantic staff writer and former New York Times Magazine national correspondent headlined his column “Time To Go, Joe” after the debate, calling it a “disaster” and writing that Biden “looked old, sounded old, and yes, is in fact very, very old.”

Joe Scarborough: Declaring that he “love[s]” Biden, the host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (a program Biden reportedly follows closely) gently suggested the morning after the debate that the president should bow out of the race, asking the rhetorical question “if he were CEO, and he turned in a performance like that, would any corporation in America keep him on?”

Chandler West: Former White House director of photography from January 2021 through May 2022, West wrote on Instagram that “it’s time for Joe to go,” Axios reported, citing screenshots of West’s story in which he said White House operatives have said privately for months that Biden is “not as strong as he was just a couple of years ago,” and a subsequent text message from West to Axios predicting that the debate is “not gonna be the last” bad day for Biden.

James Carville: Biden “shouldn’t be” the nominee, the longtime Democratic political consultant told Politico , after saying the Biden campaign used his name in a post-debate fundraising text without his permission, and also told Axios he thinks Biden will end his campaign before Election Day, paraphrasing a quote by economist Herb Stein, “that which can’t continue . . . won’t.”

Andrew Yang: Biden’s former 2020 opponent for the Democratic nomination wrote in his blog that he was “wrong” for having confidence Biden’s team could prepare him for the debate, describing Biden as “old and shuffling” when he saw him in February, while writing that Biden is “running an unwinnable race” and “doing wrong by the country” for continuing his candidacy.

Cenk Uygur: Less than 30 minutes into the debate, the host and founder of left-wing political podcast, The Young Turks, who also briefly ran for the Democratic nomination this year, tweeted that the show would “start talking about who should replace Biden. Because at this point it’s obvious that it definitely MUST happen.”

Biden has rebuffed the calls to step aside in the race, telling congressional Democrats in a letter Monday “it’s time for [discussions about his debate performance] to end.”

What To Watch For

Some Democrats have expressed careful skepticism about Biden’s future in the race, but have stopped short of calling on him to step aside. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on MSNBC in the days following the debate “I think it’s a legitimate question to say this is an episode or this is a condition,” referring to Biden’s cognitive abilities. She said Wednesday on the network that “time is running out” for Biden to decide if he’ll stay in the race—an odd statement that suggests he might still drop his bid despite his repeated insistence he’ll keep running. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., a former member of the party’s leadership, said he’d like Biden to remain the nominee but argued Harris should replace him if Biden stands down. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who has been floated as a replacement for Biden on the ticket, told reporters he will continue to support Biden “so long as he continues to be in the race,” but added “only he can make decisions about his candidacy.”

Key Background

The presidential debate last month was considered the most important night of the 2024 campaign cycle—and an opportunity for Biden to reassure voters concerned that he is too old to run for president. But Biden was widely viewed to have done the opposite, losing his train of thought within minutes of the debate beginning, speaking so softly at times it was hard to understand what he was saying, giving disjointed answers and often standing with a blank stare on his face, his mouth agape, while Trump was speaking. Abysmal reviews , even from some of Trump’s fiercest critics, instantly poured in on social media, and by the end of the debate, Democrats were reportedly privately discussing the possibility of replacing him on the ticket, multiple outlets reported.

There is no formal mechanism for replacing Biden as the nominee if he doesn’t step aside voluntarily. He has won nearly 3,900 of the 4,000 available delegates in the primaries who are beholden (but not legally required) to vote to formally nominate Biden at the Democratic convention in August. In an unprecedented and highly unlikely scenario, the delegates could spurn Biden and vote to select another nominee. Or Biden could withdraw from the race before the convention, giving his delegates the opportunity to cast their votes for another candidate. If he were to withdraw after the August convention, party rules state that the Democratic National Committee’s approximately 500 members could convene a special meeting to select a new nominee by majority vote. Harris would be the most obvious choice for a replacement, but Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom are other names commonly floated by pundits and the press. Both have defended him publicly following the debate.

Further Reading

Can Democrats Replace Biden? Here’s What Would Happen If Biden Leaves 2024 Race. (Forbes)

Biden Says ‘I Don’t Debate As Well As I Used To’ In Fiery Speech After Rocky Thursday Face-Off With Trump (Forbes)

These Are The Likely Democratic Presidential Candidates If Biden Drops Out—As Rough Debate Prompts Calls To Stand Down (Forbes)

Biden’s Debate Performance Torched—Even By Trump Foes—Over Weak Voice And Verbal Stumbles: ‘Hard To Watch’ (Forbes)

Biden Loses Train Of Thought And Corrects Himself Repeatedly In Debate With Trump (Forbes)

CORRECTION (7/9): This story has been updated to reflect how many House Democrats are currently calling for Biden to drop out.

Sara Dorn

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