Four more Democrats in Congress call for Biden to step aside in the 2024 race

Four more Democrats in Congress call for Biden to step aside in the 2024 race 1

Four additional Democrats in Congress told their lawmaker colleagues during a phone call Sunday that they believe President Joe Biden should step aside to allow someone else to be the party’s nominee for president, according to multiple people on the call and familiar with the discussion.

The House Democrats who said Biden should drop out of the race were Adam Smith of Washington, Jerry Nadler of New York, Mark Takano of California and Joe Morelle of New York.

All four lawmakers hold top positions on key committees and bring the number of Democrats in Congress who have called for Biden to reconsider his bid for president to nearly a dozen.

Smith is the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. Similar positions are held by Nadler on the Judiciary Committee, Takano on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Morelle on the House Administration Committee.

The four lawmakers and the Biden campaign did not immediately provide comments on the call.

The conversation took place Sunday afternoon during a call convened by House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York. During the call, which lasted over an hour, Biden’s future as the leader of the party was heavily called into question, according to the sources.

Each lawmaker was given a chance to speak in order of seniority. Even those who did not explicitly call on Biden to bow out expressed concerns that he is not the strongest candidate to beat former President Donald Trump in November, additional sources said.

There was an overwhelming sense among lawmakers that Vice President Kamala Harris would be a better nominee than Biden and that she would be the obvious choice to replace Biden should he exit the race, the additional sources said.

Jeffries’ office declined to comment on the call.

A number of lawmakers on the call stopped short of calling for a new nominee but expressed significant concerns about Democrats’ chances in November with Biden atop the ticket. Among them were Reps. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Don Beyer of Virginia and Jim Himes of Connecticut.

The three lawmakers serve in top Democratic positions on the Oversight, Joint Economic and Intelligence committees, respectively.

After the call, Beyer reaffirmed his support for Biden in a statement.

“I support President Biden,” he said. “I support the Biden-Harris ticket, and look forward to helping defeat Donald Trump in November.”

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Friday, President Joe Biden responded to speculation that he might drop out of the presidential race.

Raskin, Beyer and Himes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Polling has indicated that concerns over Biden’s age, 81, have long been a top issue for voters, but his widely panned debate performance on June 27 prompted conversations among lawmakers and donors about whether he was the best candidate to face Trump, 78, in the fall. Democrats in Congress have expressed their concerns both publicly and privately.

Some House Democrats in battleground districts are weighing whether to distance themselves from Biden.

Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., expressed concerns Sunday about campaigning with Biden, particularly about how his being at the top of the ticket could affect down-ballot Democrats like her, according to two people familiar with her comments. 

Wild, who narrowly won re-election in 2022 with 51% of the vote, stopped short of calling on Biden to leave the race, these people said. She is the top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., went further Saturday when she became the first front-line Democrat to call for Biden to bow out.

“President Biden is a good man & I appreciate his lifetime of service,” she wrote on X. “But I believe he should step aside for the next generation of leadership.”

The Congressional Black Caucus is largely behind Biden, two sources told NBC News, with “little cracks” in the group.

Reps. Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee, both D-Calif., defended Biden forcefully on Sunday’s call, as they have publicly since his debate with Trump last month.

Separately, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., voiced her support for Biden’s candidacy in a statement Sunday afternoon and criticized Democrats calling for him to step aside. Wilson, who is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, was not part of Sunday’s call.

“Any ‘leader’ calling for President Biden to drop out needs to get their priorities straight and stop undermining this incredible actual leader who has delivered real results for our country,” Wilson said in her statement.

Since the debate and his interview with ABC News on Friday, Biden has remained defiant about calls for him to leave the race, reiterating multiple times that he is staying in. During a stop in the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Sunday, he said “yes” after he was asked whether the Democratic Party was behind him.

Biden sat for an interview Friday with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, but it did little to quiet discussions among Democrats on Capitol Hill that he should exit the race.

During the interview, Biden dismissed the calls for him to step aside and said only the “Lord Almighty” could get him to reconsider.

“Look, I mean, if the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’ll get out of the race,” he said. “The Lord Almighty’s not coming down.”

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