Walz suggests Biden phone call to check in on Minnesota flooding took away from his debate prep time

Minnesota’s Democratic governor continues to stump for Biden even as he admits the president had a "poor night" in his debate with Trump.

Gov. Tim Walz during an interview with the PBS “Newshour” program Friday. (PBS Newshour/YouTube)

Gov. Tim Walz spent the beginning of last week assessing flood damage across parts of Minnesota. But by the week’s end Walz was assessing the damage to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, following what even those closest to the president are calling a “bad debate” performance on Thursday.

During an interview with the PBS “Newshour” program Friday, Walz, who serves as chair for the Democratic National Governors Association, told journalist Amna Nawaz that while “I agree [Biden] had a poor night” on the debate stage with Donald Trump on Thursday, “what I do know is the totality of the president’s work, especially at the crisis time coming out of Covid and some things, as a governor we’re at the tip of that spear and we see it.

“So I don’t think you judge a person’s, uh, the body of their work, on one night.”

Walz referred to the presidential election this fall multiple times during the interview as “a binary choice,” without mentioning that recent polls conducted in Minnesota show that Robert F. Kennedy’s recent addition to the ballot appears to give Trump an edge over Biden among voters.

And while Walz admitted at several points during the seven-minute PBS interview that Biden had a bad night sparring with Trump on national television, he suggested the president may not have been as prepared as some had been led to believe.

“Look, [Biden is] not a young man, but he’s an honest man,” Walz said. “We’re right in the middle of massive flooding out here in Minnesota. His team’s out here. [President Biden] took time Wednesday, he wasn’t preparing for the debate, he was calling out here to see how the flood recovery was going.

“I’m not gonna gloss over the fact that this was not a great (debate) performance, but I’m still seeing the president do this job. I’m still seeing him being responsive to crisis situations and putting out policies that are going to make life better for people, unlike Donald Trump, who was horrifyingly misleading last night but more than that is just blatantly cruel in his policies.”

Could Walz, or others, defeat Trump?

As the interview with PBS wrapped up, Walz was asked whether a list of Democratic governors who have been rumored to be potential replacements-in-waiting were Biden to suspend his campaign could beat Donald Trump on Nov. 5.

“Oh yeah, I think there is a lot of folks who could, just like Joe Biden defeated [Trump],” Walz said, without mentioning any names. “He’s the guy who actually did it. And I think he will do it again.

“But our bench is deep. We are not, look, we don’t all wear red hats and chant in unison. We have a lot of diverse ideas. And look, these governors, I am biased towards governors as the Democratic Governors Association chair, but we have got leaders across the spectrum, inside the president’s admin there is fabulous folks. And I think the American people understand that this president has delivered.

“There’s a lot of folks supporting him and we are out here making the case, look, we need these policies to make sure in our states that we can deliver.”

Minnesota’s top Republican says it’s ‘too late’ for Biden to drop out

On the other side of the aisle, Minnesota’s top Republican elected official told local media on Friday that while Biden’s debate performance the night prior all but made it clear to voters that Donald Trump is the best choice for the White House going forward, voters should not expect the president to step down in the coming days in favor of a replacement.

“I don’t think he’s going to go willingly,” Rep. Tom Emmer, who serves as majority whip in the Republican-controlled U.S. House, said during an interview on KTLK Twin Cities on Friday morning. “I blame Jill Biden; she should have stopped this a long time ago; but she loves being in the White House.”

Emmer, who represents Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional district, was asked during the interview with host Jon Justice whether Biden’s debate performance should renew calls to invoke the 25th Amendment. Last week some of Emmer’s Republican colleagues began floating the idea.

“There is no question that we are in a 25th Amendment state in this country,” said Emmer, who’s running for his sixth term in Congress. “That isn’t something we should be pushing. The election is only four months and some days away; the American people will speak to the 25th amendment on Nov. 5.”


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.