MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell questions whether Biden’s top advisers are too old and White to prepare him for debate

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MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell questions whether Biden’s top advisers are too old and White to prepare him for debate

MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell questioned on-air Monday whether it is a mistake for President Biden to surround himself with a group of top advisers that are “all White men in their 60s” ahead of Thursday’s CNN Presidential Debate.

Mitchell made the comment during an interview with Adrienne Elrod, a senior spokesperson for Biden’s re-election campaign, who joined “Andrea Mitchell Reports” to discuss their perspective heading into the highly anticipated showdown between Biden and former President Trump.

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U.S. President Joe Biden and then Chief of Staff Ron Klain arrive for an event to welcome Zients in the East Room of the White House on February 01, 2023 in Washington, DC (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Toward the end of the interview, Mitchell highlighted a recent New York Times article that detailed the advisers Biden has grown to rely on in his bid to retain the White House. The article, headlined, “The Insiders: 3 Men at the Core of Biden’s Brain Trust,” lists former White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, longtime Biden adviser Mike Donilon, and former Sen. Ted Kaufman as critical figures in Biden’s inner circle.

“There’s a profile of the three closest advisers, longest-serving advisers, informal and formal advisers to the president, and they’re all White men in their 60s or higher — former Sen. Ted Kaufman is 85 years old. Is that too insular?” Mitchell asked.

Elrod responded by attacking Trump’s position on the border and economic achievements before defending the president’s closest advisers.

biden walking with aides

Annie Tomasini, deputy chief of staff, from left, US President Joe Biden, Bruce Reed, White House deputy chief of staff, and Michael C. Donilon, senior advisor to US President Joe Biden, on the South Lawn of the White House after arriving on Marine One in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.  (Photographer: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“I know them very well. These are loyal, dedicated public servants who have a lot of experience and who were part of the team that really help get some of these major economic policies in place under President Biden’s first term in the White House,” she told Mitchell.

“They are longtime allies of the president, of course they should be there in debate prep,” she continued.

Elrod went on to say that there are “plenty of other women” around the president, including former White House deputy chief of staff Jen O’Malley Dillon and longtime adviser Anita Dunn, who will ensure he is sufficiently prepared to take on his political opponent on live-TV.

“He’s got the team around him that is going to make sure he is most prepared for this debate,” she told Mitchell.

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The New York Times article claims that while Biden has assembled a “diverse group of advisers” in the run-up to November, few have the “influence of three men in his inner circle during his final campaign.”

Biden reportedly calls Donilon “multiple times a day” to go over the latest headlines and polls. He summons Klain “once a week” to workshop “the best attacks” to use against Trump in the upcoming debate and reportedly “seeks out” Kaufman when he leaves for Delaware on weekends, according to the Times.

NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell

Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday, January 21, 2020  (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

“While he is surrounded by a diverse and multigenerational crowd of campaign operatives, policy experts and cabinet secretaries, he reserves his full trust for a small circle of insiders who are the definition of old school,” the article reads.

The Times article comes shortly after Axios published a story quoting Democratic strategists and advisers to President Biden who are concerned about the campaign’s direction driven by Biden’s inner circle.

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 “It is unclear to many of us watching from the outside whether the president and his core team realize how dire the situation is right now, and whether they even have a plan to fix it,” a democratic strategist who communicates with the Biden campaign, told Axios.

An anonymous official told the outlet that some advisers feel pressure not to speak up in meetings, especially when in the presence of Biden’s most trusted serving aides. 

“Even for those close to the center, there is a hesitance to raise skepticism or doubt about the current path, for fear of being viewed as disloyal,” an anonymous official told the outlet. 

“There is not a discussion that a change of course is needed,” the same anonymous official told Axios.

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Some Biden advisers disputed the claims of officials and Democratic strategists who said that they were doubtful of the Biden campaign’s plan for November, telling the outlet, “These people have clearly not heard from Mike [Klain].”

Fox News’ Jeffrey Clark contributed to this report.

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