2024 DNC

Gov. Pritzker recorded on hot mic discussing Biden's status in presidential race

Pritzker has been outspoken in his support of Biden for recent days, but acknowledged that he didn't 'like where we are' in the discussion over the president's age

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has publicly stood behind President Joe Biden as he faces questions about his age following a controversial debate performance, but he was caught on a hot mic conceding that there were concerns about the ongoing discussions over the incumbent’s status in the race.

Pritzker was talking to other individuals at an event publicizing a massive investment into violence prevention strategies when he began speaking about the controversy swirling around the president, with just one month to go until the Democratic National Convention.

“We’re just going to keep fighting. I don’t know what to say,” he said. “We’re going to do what we have to do. I don’t like where we are.”

A spokeswoman for the governor confirmed to NBC Chicago that he was talking about the presidential race and the discussion surrounding Biden’s status as the Democratic candidate.

Pritzker has repeatedly said he supported Biden for the nomination even after the late June debate performance.

 “Joe Biden is our nominee. I’m for Joe Biden. I’ve been campaigning for Joe Biden,” he said.

Questions have swirled around Biden as numerous Democrats, including Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, have called on the president to step aside and to allow another candidate to run for the White House after a much-criticized performance in June’s debate with former President Donald Trump.

“I started speaking out last Tuesday because I am concerned that we are in a time crunch,” Quigley said. “I do believe we need to make a change and that we need to make it before the Democratic convention.”

Biden’s campaign has continued scheduling events and fundraising calls amid those questions, with White House officials also commenting on members of Congress who remain in the president’s corner.

“He's going to focus on continuing to work on behalf of the American people, continuing to build on an unprecedented record that he’s been able to get done with many of these congressional members that he’s proud to have worked with. But that’s his focus right now,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

After offering his support of Biden, Pritzker was also asked if he had the same stance as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who said she’s not interested in being the nominee, if Biden steps down. 

“What I can tell you is I’m not engaging in hypotheticals, you can see I’m all in for Joe Biden,” he said. “Joe Biden’s going to be the nominee for the Democratic Party.”

Pritzker was on a call of governors designed to shore up support for Biden across the country, and that effort will continue Tuesday as Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson will participate in a call with Democratic mayors. He echoed his support for Biden prior to that call.

“There’s only one person on ballot that’s every beaten former President Trump, and that’s President Joe Biden,” he said. “He has a proven track record that is really unmatched and unparalleled.”

Even as he pushes Biden’s candidacy, Pritzker is busy increasing his national profile — speaking this weekend to gatherings of Democrats in Indiana and Ohio.  As to whether that is to support Biden, or to raise his own profile, Pritzker said the message was ultimately more important than who was delivering it.

“I suppose you could say that about any of the surrogates who are traveling around the Midwest or the country, that they’re introducing themselves  some way or another, but importantly what we’re doing is talking about why it’s important to reelect Joe Biden,” he said.   

The governor dismisses those who suggest there could be a brokered convention when the Democrats meet in Chicago this August.  

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