'Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance': Martin Heinrich Offers Tepid Support for Octogenarian President

New Mexico senator says Biden 'needs to continue to demonstrate that his debate performance was just a bad night'

Martin Heinrich (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
July 8, 2024

New Mexico Democratic senator Martin Heinrich on Monday offered tepid support for President Joe Biden, saying in a statement that he loves the octogenarian leader but needs to see him "continue to demonstrate that his debate performance was just a bad night."

"I love Joe Biden. He's the most accomplished President of my lifetime and he's a genuinely wonderful human being," Heinrich wrote. "However, what I care most about is the preservation of our democracy. President Biden needs to continue to demonstrate that his debate performance was just a bad night, and that he has a clear path to defeating Donald Trump. Our democracy hangs in the balance."

It's unclear what Heinrich thinks Biden has done to demonstrate that the debate "was just a bad night." In the wake of the debate, Biden has mostly delivered remarks read off a teleprompter. On Friday, he struggled through an interview with ABC News, during which he blamed his debate performance on "a really bad cold" and ruled out taking a cognitive test.

Other Democratic senators offered harsher assessments of Biden.

Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), for example, called on Biden to "prove" he can serve another four years in the White House.

"President Biden has got to prove to the American people—including me—that he's up to the job for another four years," said Tester. "Meanwhile, I'll continue to do what I've always done: Stand up to President Biden when he's wrong and protect our Montana way of life." Tester has voted with Biden 91 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.

On the House side, several Democrats have called on President Biden to end his candidacy and drop out of the race, including Reps. Jerry Nadler (N.Y.), Joe Morelle (N.Y.), Adam Smith (Wash.), and Mark Takano (Calif.).

A pre-debate poll that surveyed 600 likely voters in New Mexico put Biden just 1 point ahead of Trump. Biden won the state by 11 points in 2020. Heinrich is also up for reelection in November—a May survey showed him leading his Republican opponent, Nella Domenici, by just 3 points.