Reporters Say Biden Campaign Staff Tried To Stop Them From Interviewing Critical Voters

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Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
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Reporters claimed Friday that President Joe Biden’s campaign staffers tried to halt their interviews with voters once they started to turn critical of the president following a rough debate showing.

Biden faced off against former President Donald Trump in a rather unprecedented debate format, as the two appeared in the CNN studio on Thursday with no live audience and mics with the ability to be cut off on Friday. Panic set in among Democrats all but 30 minutes into the debate, as the president stumbled through answers, even once appearing to freeze before moderator Jake Tapper bailed him out. The panic became so full-fledged that Democrats even began to call on the president to bow out of the 2024 presidential race. (RELATED: White House Media Takes Aim At CNN After Network Bans Reporters From Joining Biden, Trump In Debate Studio)

In the aftermath of the first presidential debate, several reporters claimed that while at campaign events with voters on Friday, Biden campaign staffers tried to cut off the conversation as they moved in a negative direction.

“As I spoke to voters at a Las Vegas rally for Vice President Harris, a Nevada Biden campaign staffer followed me and twice asked that voters end their interviews when their comments turned critical of President Biden,” Simon Levien, a New York Times reporter, wrote.

“You can’t tell me that there’s not anyone better —” a voter told Levien, expressing the desire for a different Democratic presidential candidate.

“We’re at a Joe Biden event, so I’m going to cut you off there, sorry,” a Biden staffer told Levien, cutting the interview off.

After one voter expressed that they wished Biden would drop out of the presidential race and allow Harris to be the Democratic nominee for president, a campaign staffer jumped in, Levien continued.

“Who’s running the country?” another voter told Levien he remarked during the debate.

“Let Kamala in!” he said about the potential for the vice president to be the nominee.

“I’m going to stop it here, sorry. If I can, it’s a Biden event. Is that okay?” the staffer said, according to Levien. The NYT reporter identified the staffer as Clio Calvo-Platero, the deputy communications director for the Biden campaign in Nevada, in a pool report.

Taylor R. Avery, a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, tweeted that a similar situation happened to her at the same event.

“This also happened to me. A staffer tried not once but twice to cut off my interview with a voter who said they thought Biden should step down. They then ushered me and the voter inside because ‘the Vp is almost here’ but the VP did not show up for another 30 minutes,” she wrote.

Olivia Nuzzi, the Washington Correspondent for New York Magazine, wrote on Twitter that following the debate her press access to a future Biden campaign event had suddenly been restricted.

“On Wednesday, the Biden campaign told me I would be permitted to join the expanded pool to cover the president’s fundraisers on Saturday. Today, they told me I am no longer permitted to cover the events. I wonder why that could be…” Nuzzi wrote.

Nuzzi posted an update later Friday night, writing that she once again had access to the campaign event.

“I have spoken to the Biden campaign and the White House, who have changed the plan for press access on Saturday and will allow @NYMag to join. They blamed their initial revocation of my access on a communications error and insisted it was not in response to the president’s performance at last night’s debate,” she wrote.

As allies of the president call for him to drop out of the race, Biden and his campaign are remaining optimistic about his performance.

“I think we did well,” Biden said after the debate. (The president added at a Friday rally that he doesn’t debate as well as he used to.)

“There are no conversations about that whatsoever,” Biden campaign spokesperson Michael Tyler said in response to speculation that the president may end his reelection bid.