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Biden allies convinced Manchin to hold off on public talk about concerns post-debate

Sen. Joe Manchin became greatly concerned over Joe Biden’s standing after the president’s debate performance last week — so much so that he considered voicing his worries in a Sunday national TV interview before being convinced otherwise, a person familiar with his thinking confirmed to POLITICO.

In the days following the debate, Manchin (I-W.Va.) called a number of key allies to share his concerns over the president’s performance and his belief that the American people needed to hear from Biden directly.

After speaking with Biden allies — including Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) — Manchin decided against participating in a previously scheduled appearance on The Sunday Show With Jonathan Capehart, according to the person familiar.

By the time Manchin decided he wasn’t going to do the Sunday show appearance, he received a call from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who heard about his concerns with Biden’s performance.

Manchin’s office declined to comment. Manchin’s scheduled TV interview and concerns were first reportedby The Washington Post. The Senate is in recess until next week.

The Biden campaign also declined to comment on Manchin’s reaction to the president’s debate performance.

Manchin has previously used his TV appearances to make news about his positions on key issues. He once effectively ending negotiations on a version of the Biden administration’s signature Build Back Better Act on a Sunday show appearance with Fox News.

Though he was a longtime Democrat from a deeply red state, the senator recently changed his party affiliation to independent. He is not running for reelection this cycle and has endorsed a Democratic candidate to replace him.

Still, the West Virginia senator isn’t alone in his unease about the president’s performance last week. And others have not bit their tongues.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said he was “horrified” by the debate. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) called it a “really bad night” for the president. And others expressed similar reactions.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first sitting congressional Democrat to call on Biden to step aside as the party nominee. Former Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, still an active member of many Democratic political circles, has said Vice President Kamala Harris should step in to replace Biden.

But a number of Democrats have continued to voice their support for the president, including Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Nicholas Wu contributed to this report. 

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