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In Biden-loving parts of L.A. even ardent Democrats weigh his future

Even in the heart of Biden's biggest base of supporters, Los Angeles County, there is growing dissatisfaction with the president following his disastrous performance in last week's debate.

“Biden needs to sit down, take some medicine and take a nap. His time is over,” said Daisy Williams, who voted for Biden in 2020 but said she would not participate in the November election after watching last week's debate. “I've never seen anything this crazy in my life. We're in trouble… That debate was a joke.”

Biden's debate performance, in which he delivered his rambling, at times incoherent thoughts in a weak, raspy voice, unsettled even the most ardent Democrats. While the party was shaken and party officials began quickly debating whether to remove the sitting president from the running, voters in the most Democratic parts of Los Angeles County also pondered Biden's future.

California is overflowing with support for the president, especially Los Angeles County, which backed Biden 71% in 2020. But Inglewood and some other precincts in South Los Angeles are even more Democratic, with the president's approval rating exceeding 94% in the 2020 election.

In a series of informal interviews, some residents in these areas said they support the president, but others said someone else, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, should be chosen to face former President Trump in November.

Williams expressed dismay at the presidential choice in her West Athens neighborhood south of Englewood, a district that voted 95% for Biden in 2020. She said she would reconsider her decision not to vote if Biden steps down.

The 65-year-old certified nursing assistant described the election as a choice between “a criminal and a dementia patient.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden does not suffer from any form of dementia. At a press conference Tuesday.

Biden has not publicly wavered in his commitment to seeking reelection. It is reportedly being discussed Whether to step down with his closest family and advisors;

CNN Poll The poll released Tuesday found that 56% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning registered voters believe their party would have a better chance of winning the election with a candidate other than Biden. First poll It was made public after the debate showed Trump had defeated Biden.

(Faith Pinho/Los Angeles Times)

But Daniel Rodriguez, a Democrat who voted for Biden in 2020 and plans to vote again in November, was unfazed by Biden's shaky debate performance.

“It certainly was, but I think he's got a lot going on in his head,” Rodriguez said. “He's overwhelmed.”

Rodriguez, 50, a caregiver for seniors between the ages of 50 and 90, said her job is to be their advocate and “support them 100 percent.” Through her work, she said she's found that some seniors are intelligent even if they can't express their feelings well.

“I saw some really smart people. They're still going, they're still smart,” he said. “So [do] Don't give up on them, you know? … They have a voice in this country.”

Janice Gatlin, 66, had the opposite reaction to the debate. She said she kept trying to look away from the television screen and Biden's spectacular blunders, but she couldn't stop watching, staying with the “infuriating” performance until the end.

“Biden is just about old enough to retire. He's lost his way! I'm embarrassed for him. I voted for him and it hurts,” she said. She added that Harris would be a good replacement. “It's time for her to step up,” Gatlin said.

Biden made a few public appearances after the debate, including a spirited speech at a rally in North Carolina the next day. Critics noted that Biden's reliance on a teleprompter made him appear more energetic. But to Gatlin, that didn't matter. Biden's debate performance showed he was no longer fit for the presidency, she said.

“He should step down and think about his country,” Gatlin said, adding that other countries were also watching the U.S. elections. “Nobody is afraid of him. He's not a loudmouth, he has no bass in his voice, nothing.”

(Faith Pinho/Los Angeles Times)

For Antinya Walker, a 19-year-old who plans to vote in her first presidential election this fall, the debate made her choice easy: She's voting for Trump.

The Los Angeles resident, who was running an errand at her local Big Lots supermarket, said she believes Biden is against women's rights. She blames Biden for tightening abortion restrictions across the country, but credits Trump with appointing conservative Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, making abortion unavailable across the country.

Abortion is widely seen as key to Democrats' electoral victory. But last Thursday, Biden failed to articulate a clear vision for restoring access to abortion care nationwide, undermining a key Democratic issue with a confusing metaphor about the third trimester of pregnancy. Walker said she stopped watching the debate after hearing Biden's “terrible” response to the question.

“How can we trust a president who can't even communicate properly,” Walker said. “I think Trump is the best option right now. I pray for America.”

(Faith Pinho/Los Angeles Times)

Still, in this most Democratic part of Los Angeles County, Biden has retained supporters like Harvey Woodruff, a retired grocer and security guard.

“He seemed a little tired. He's in the job, so what do you expect?” Woodruff said. He said he appreciated Biden's management of the economy over the past four years. “I'm all for it. Great job. I don't see any reason why we can't have him serve another term.”

Woodruff said Trump is a bigger threat to the country's democracy, adding that if elected president, Trump would pardon his own conviction.

Woodruff, 67, had been riding his bike from Englewood, where Biden won 95% of the vote in 2020, to Derby Park to meet friends at the beach. Watching Biden struggle in the debate reminded him to go see a doctor, he said.

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