How did Joe Biden handle questions about his son at third Democratic debate?
As Trump made unfounded allegations about Biden and his son, the former vice president was torn over what to do. He now looks more vulnerable than at any point in the campaign.
Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign was under attack, and he and his advisers were torn over what to do.
For more than a week, President Trump had been hurling unfounded accusations about Mr. Biden, his son Hunter and their dealings in Ukraine. Mr. Biden and his advisers debated whether to mount a fierce counterattack or to stick to a set of policy arguments he had been planning to roll out. Bad news loomed in the background: Mr. Biden’s poll numbers had already grown wobbly, his fund-raising was uneven, and cable news was flashing chyrons by the hour showing Mr. Trump’s wild claims.
Mr. Biden himself was equivocating: He wanted to defend and protect his son, but he also believed the president was baiting him into a dirty fight. And as a lifelong adherent to congressional tradition, Mr. Biden was wary of acting hastily as an impeachment inquiry was getting underway.
The strain grew so acute that some of Mr. Biden’s advisers lashed out at their own party, taking the unusual step of urging campaign surrogates to criticize the Democratic National Committee — a neutral body in the primary — for not doing more to defend Mr. Biden, while the Republican National Committee was running TV ads attacking him. Frustrated, D.N.C. officials informed the Biden camp that it would continue denouncing Mr. Trump but would not run ads for Mr. Biden or any other candidate.