Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Pelosi says ‘time is running short’ for Democrats on the Joe Biden question | CBC News

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California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday “it’s up to the president to decide” if he should stay in the election race, even as Joe Biden has insisted repeatedly that he’s running for a second term following a disastrous debate performance two weeks ago.

“We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short,” Pelosi, a Democrat and former Speaker of the House, said Wednesday on MSNBC.

Asked directly whether she wants Biden to stay on the top of the ticket ahead of the Nov. 5 election, Pelosi said: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do, and that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with.”

The lack of a full-throated endorsement from Pelosi could carry extra weight within the party over those who’ve spoken publicly about the dilemma in recent days, given her status as the most influential congressional Democrat over the past two decades. She served two terms as House Speaker and is now considered Speaker Emerita.

Pelosi praised Biden for being “absolutely spectacular” in an opening address at a 75th anniversary NATO summit on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., and urged Democrats to “hold off” on public pronouncements until the end of that session.

Worry about down ballot races

One senator could not wait that long, and has not been reassured by Biden’s post-debate appearances.

“I have not seen anything remotely approaching the kind of plan we need to see out of the White House that can demonstrate that he can actually beat Donald Trump,” said Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who ran for the presidential nomination in 2020, in a CNN interview on Tuesday night.

“Donald Trump is on track to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide,” said Bennet, who took pains to express admiration for Biden preventing a second Trump term in 2020, as well as his legislative accomplishments the past three years as president.

WATCH l Michael Bennet empathizes with Biden’s tough spot, but says bigger stakes are at play:

Democratic senator says people around Biden have ‘moral obligation’ to tell him hard truths

Sen. Michael Bennet praises U.S. President Joe Biden’s accomplishments and understands his difficult position, but says the risks of another Trump presidency are too high.

Bennet stressed that the Nov. 5 vote isn’t just about the Oval Office, but the Senate — where Democrats need to defend their slimmest of margins in a slate that is extremely challenging for the party — while trying to regain control of the House of Representatives after a sometimes chaotic two years with Republicans in charge in that chamber.

The influential Cook Political Report released new data on Tuesday that figured to give the party pause, with Republicans extending a polling lead in some states, and others now seen as less secure for Democrats.

Bennet is among a small group of senators who say Biden must do more to prove that he can win, including Washington’s Patty Murray, the most senior Senate Democrat to do so. But both Murray and Bennet stopped short of calling on Biden to exit the race.

A clean shaven dark haired man in a suit and tie is shown standing outside a building and facing a camera and a microphone.
Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois arrives at Democratic National Committee headquarters to discuss the 2024 election and U.S. President Joe Biden’s candidacy Tuesday. Quigley is among a small group publicly calling on Biden to end his presidency after one term. (John McDonnell/The Associated Press)

House members have been more vocal, though the chamber is more than four times the size of the Senate in terms of numbers, with 213 Democrats.

“He just has to step down because he can’t win,” Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley said Tuesday as Democratic legislators met privately. “My colleagues need to recognize that.”

Rep. Pat Ryan on Wednesday, in an interview with the New York Times, became the eighth House Democrat to publicly call on Biden to bow out.

‘I’m with Joe’

Dozens of Democrats have publicly supported Biden’s bid. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York on Tuesday repeated to a series of reporter questions, “I’ve said before, I’m with Joe.”

An older clean shaven man wearing glasses and a suit and tie points at someone while standing in front of microphones.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York expressed his support for Biden’s candidacy when he spoke with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, on Tuesday. (Cliff Owen/The Associated Press)

Biden has also garnered public shows of support from members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), as well as those from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Some progressives who have often been the most apt to criticize some of the White House’s policies the past three years have also given him full-throated support, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

And at least one key House Democrat reversed course.

“He said he’s going to remain in, he’s our candidate and we’re going to support him,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York told CNN. Over the weekend he was among those privately saying Biden should not run, according to multiple sources who spoke to AP.

A large clean shaven bald man wearing a hoodie speaks into a microphone outside in front of a small crowd visible in the photograph as nearby an older clean shaven man in sunglasses and a suit and collared shirt stands.
Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania speaks as Biden, left, listens at a campaign rally in Harrisburg, Pa., on Sunday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

John Fetterman is also pro-Biden. The junior senator from Pennsylvania managed to come back from his own worrisome performance in a debate in 2022, amid a long recovery from a stroke.

“Joe Biden is our guy. He’s my guy. And he’s the only guy ever to kick Trump’s ass,” Fetterman said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Party hopes to focus on Republicans, and soon

The Democratic National Convention to nominate Biden is scheduled for Aug. 19, and the president would have to agree to release his delegates before another candidate could even be contemplated. Even then, the process would be complicated, and some Republican groups have promised lawsuits over ballot access — which is determined at the state level — for any candidate not named Biden.

Biden’s week includes a full schedule, with the 81-year-old shifting between domestic priorities and NATO activities, with many eyeing his Thursday news conference at the alliance meetup as another test of his vigour.

Biden was joining an executive council meeting for the AFL-CIO, the largest association of trade unions, after engaging in a virtual call with more than 200 Democratic mayors on Tuesday evening.

Democrats hope to quickly put focus back on the Republicans, who hold a convention next week for a candidate who faces four criminal indictments, and are promising a Project 2025 party agenda the Democrats characterize as authoritarian and radical.

WATCH l A recap of Tuesday’s tense Democratic meetings:

Democrats divided over Biden’s future

Members of the Democratic Party remain divided over whether Joe Biden should drop out of the U.S. presidential race or if the party needs to come together and fight a common enemy — Donald Trump.

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