Despite ‘rough’ debate, Beshear still backs Biden in presidential election Skip to content

Despite ‘rough’ debate, Beshear still backs Biden in presidential election

Kentucky governor says he will support the president ‘as long as he continues to be in the race’

3 min read
Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters Monday that his being mentioned as a possible presidential contender is a positive reflection on Kentucky. The governor had just spoken at a celebration of Kentucky State Parks’ 100th anniversary. (Kentucky Lantern photo by McKenna Horsley)

FRANKFORT — Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said that as long as President Joe Biden remains a candidate in the presidential election, Beshear will continue to support him.

Beshear, 46, a two-term governor in red-state Kentucky, has been floated as a potential Democratic nominee should Biden step aside. However, the governor on Monday pushed back at questions about getting into the race now.

Speaking to reporters, Beshear said he would echo what he said when asked about the possibility of appointing someone to replace Republican U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in office (which has not come to fruition): “The president says he’s staying in, and I believe him.”

Biden’s performance in the CNN debate against former Republican President Donald Trump sparked questions about the president’s ability to lead in a second term. Biden, 81, spoke softly at several points, coughed, and gave somewhat confusing answers throughout the night. Meanwhile, Trump, 78, repeated falsehoods, such as election fraud resulting in his 2020 loss.

Beshear made several shortlists over the weekend of possible replacements for Democrats, including nods in the New York Times and Washington Post. Other names that gained attention were Vice President Kamala Harris, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Beshear said he left a watch party shortly before the debate began Thursday night that was attended by Whitmer and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker but heard “it was tense afterwards.” CNN reported the watch party was in Los Angeles and Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, also attended.

Beshear added that Biden has “admitted that it was a rough night.” Beshear said, “My hope is that there’s more information forthcoming, that he’ll speak to the American people and to the leaders around the country.”

“The debate performance was rough,” Beshear said. “It was a very bad night for the president, but he is still the candidate. Only he can make decisions about his future candidacy. And so as long as he continues to be in the race, I support him.”

Kentucky Democrats recently selected their delegates to the Democratic National Committee’s convention slated for August. Beshear, who is among voting delegates heading to the convention, said he is “positive that our delegates will support” Biden. Because nearly 18% of Kentucky Democratic voters cast uncommitted ballots in this year’s primary election, Kentucky Democrats will have a handful of uncommitted delegates.

When asked about his reaction to being touted as a replacement should Biden step aside, Beshear called it “flattering” and said it was a positive reflection on Kentucky, particularly in areas like economic growth.

“I think the rest of the country turns to us and says how can a Democratic governor (and) a Republican General Assembly create really good results? And I think the answer to that is everything is not partisan. And people are tired of the clashes day in and day out,” Beshear said. “So when they look at what we have done in Kentucky, they see a better future that’s beyond some of the back and forth that we see on the federal level.” 

Beshear signaled support for Biden’s candidacy last October in an editorial board interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader. Beshear has also taken steps to increase his national profile since his reelection last fall. The governor launched a political action committee, In This Together, and will be the keynote speaker for an Iowa Democratic Party dinner later this month.

Beshear spoke to reporters after addressing a crowd outside the Old State Capitol in Frankfort to honor Kentucky State Parks’ 100th anniversary. 

In a statement responding to the governor’s comments, Republican Party of Kentucky spokesperson Andy Westberry said Beshear “clearly sees this as an opportunity for his political future, but his insincere attempt to deflect from the issue won’t make it go away.”

“Andy Beshear needs to stand up and show real leadership by telling the truth: Joe Biden is not fit to serve as President today, let alone for another four years,” Westberry said.


Written by McKenna Horsley. Cross-posted from the Kentucky Lantern.

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Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky Lantern is an independent, nonpartisan, free news service. We’re based in Frankfort a short walk from the Capitol, but all of Kentucky is our beat.