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Barbara Boxer gives Biden two weeks to fix his ailing campaign

When Barbara Boxer took office as a U.S. senator, she carried with her an image of a fervent liberal from Marin County, land of crystals, hot tubs, and aging hippies.

That was not a good thing.

“The word was out there that I was a really radical feminist and guys were scared to death of me,” Boxer recalls.

The colleague who smoothed her path was Joe Biden: “She's good people,” he assured the Old Bulls. By 1993, Biden had already begun his second decade in Congress.

The two became close both personally and politically.

“We really bonded in terms of protecting dolphins and protecting women,” Boxer said of the legislative work she began in the 1980s when she was a member of the House of Representatives, regulating purse seine fishing, cracking down on domestic violence.

Boxer supported Biden when he ran for president in 1988. In 2020 too, In particular, he has ignored Kamala Harris, the Democrat who was elected to replace her in the Senate.

Given all this, Boxer was stunned as she and her family watched Biden stutter and stumble during last week's debate. “This wasn't the Joe we knew,” she said. “Something was wrong.”

What had long been a low-level tension among Democrats has quickly morphed into party-wide panic, with a small but growing number of voices (many more privately voicing the sentiment) calling on the 81-year-old incumbent president to drop out of the race before it's too late and he tears the party apart.

Boxer isn't there, at least not yet.

Two weeks, she said. Give Biden two weeks to prove that the zombie outbreak in Atlanta was an aberration.

“He's done it so many times,” Boxer said this week from his Palm Springs home. “Each time, he's almost given up, but he's come back. Can he do it again? I don't know the answer, but with all my respect and admiration for what he's done, I'm going to give him the time to do it.”

“If he can't do it, he can't do it,” Boxer said. “Someone else will do it.”

That's not exactly “standing firm to the end”The last dog dies Approval.

But they are not going to throw Biden, who is seriously injured, to the wolves.

When the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein was in her widely reported mental and physical decline, there were widespread calls for her to step down and make way for someone younger, more energetic, more astute. Boxer, who served alongside Sen. Feinstein in their history-making Senate run, gently nudged her back. There's life after the Senate, and it's a good life, she advised her former colleague in a 2021 interview.

But Boxer never overtly cornered Feinstein. Many others did too. Her fellow Democrat died in September at age 90, hours after casting his final vote on the Senate floor.

Biden's situation is different, Boxer said.

“We don't know what happened to Joe,” she said, still confused nearly a week later.

Perhaps his lifelong stutter began under the studio lights, she speculated. Did Biden have a bad cold, or was it the cold medicine he took?

“I think the president owes the American people an explanation,” Boxer said. And more importantly, she added, the president needs to show voters that he can not only stand up to Donald Trump, but beat him in November.

“He needs to speak without a script. He needs to just face the press and the public without a teleprompter,” she said. “That's crucial.”

Biden was relatively active at a rally in North Carolina the day after the debate and has made several other public appearances, speaking to reporters following the Supreme Court's sweeping decision granting the president near-total immunity and again while discussing the nation's scorching heat from an emergency operations center in Washington.

But Biden spoke using a teleprompter and refused to answer reporters' questions.

The president's first appearance without a network will be in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos scheduled for Friday. The stakes are extremely high: Another shaky performance could set off a flood of calls from Democrats for Biden to step down.

Meanwhile, polls following Thursday night's debate showed Biden trailing Trump, Voters are growing concerned On the President's mental and cognitive health.

Like many, Boxer speaks in apocalyptic terms about the return of the Trump administration.

“This election is completely different from other elections,” she said. “We have to stop a man who says, 'I'm going to be a dictator from day one,' and who wants to jail his opponents. It's getting worse every day.”

She praised Biden's work over the past three and a half years. A track record of job creation; Tackling climate change, fighting to lower prescription drug prices. But that's all in the past, and none of it seems to matter much to voters who are, at this point, very worried and doubtful about Biden's ability to go forward.

Democrats are nervous, Boxer said. “I'm nervous, too. I'm very nervous.”

But she's willing to give Biden another chance to get back into politics: two weeks, she said: “Because we have a convention in August and if we're going to have an open convention, people need time to decide who they're going to support.”

This is far from a “Biden or doom” story, but rather shows that even his closest friends and greatest admirers have limited hope and patience for a president whose mental and physical capacities are compromised.

But with so much at stake, there is no room for sentimentality.

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