Election 2024: Top Democratic leaders recommend Biden drop re-election bid

Harrisburg, Pa. (AP) – President Joe Biden While urging his supporters to remain united during a series of stops in key Pennsylvania on Sunday, some leading congressional Democrats privately suggested it was time for him to drop his re-election bid. Intensifying questions About whether he deserves another post.

Addressing a rousing church service in front of sun-bathed stained-glass windows at Philadelphia’s Mount Airy Church of Christ, the 81-year-old Biden joked, “I know I’m 40” but “I’ve been doing this a long time.” time.”

“Honest to God, I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future if we stick together,” he said.

There and during rallies with union members in Harrisburg, Biden gave short speeches that touched on familiar topics. But he leaves plenty of room for mainstream supporters to stand up and debate him. In that sense, the Pennsylvania swing seemed more to demonstrate support for the president from mainstream political circles than to prove that he would have four more years.

However, his party is deeply divided.

As Congress prepares to resume this week, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries convened a high-level panel of lawmakers Sunday afternoon to gauge their views. Representative of New York. Jerry Nadler, Representative of Connecticut. Jim Himes and Rep. of California. Several Democratic caucus leaders, including Mark Tagano, said privately that Biden should step aside, according to two people familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it. .

But other top Democrats, including members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, argued forcefully that Biden should be the party’s choice. The conversation was wide-ranging, with group leaders sharing different views on the situation but no consensus on what to do, people said.

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Biden personally called lawmakers over the weekend. He joined a call with campaign surrogates and reiterated that he has no plans to leave the race. Instead, the president vowed to push hard and accelerate his political journey, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

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Sen. Alex Padilla of California spoke to the president, a Democrat, who said he and others were leading the Biden campaign to “let Joe be Joe and get him out.”

“I’m sure we can change it,” Padilla told The Associated Press.

Meanwhile, Sen. A person familiar with Mark Warner’s thinking said there would be no meeting Monday to discuss Biden’s future, and as previously discussed, those discussions would take place at a regular caucus luncheon Tuesday with all Democratic senators. The person said a private meeting was no longer possible after it was made public that Virginia Democrats were reaching out to senators about Biden and that various conversations between senators were ongoing.

And five, different Democratic lawmakers have already gone public He called on Biden to drop his re-election campaign Forward November. Meeting in person this week means lawmakers have more opportunities to discuss concerns about Biden’s ability to survive the remaining four months of the campaign — not to mention four more years in the White House — and his real chances of defeating the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Trump.

Biden’s campaign team also called and texted lawmakers.

Yet calls to bow came from different directions.

Tampa City Councilman and Democratic National Committee member Alan Glendon called on Biden on Sunday to “step aside and allow Vice President Kamala Harris to move forward with her agenda as our Democratic nominee.” “It’s time for Joe Biden to step down,” director Rob Reiner, who has helped organize glitzy Hollywood fundraisers for Biden in the past, posted on X.

The Democratic convention is fast closer And Biden’s Friday Interview with ABC Not convincing some of the skeptics.

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Democratic fundraiser host Barry Goodman, a Michigan attorney, said he supports Biden but would throw his support to Harris if he backs out. This is notable because Goodman was the finance co-chair for both of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide campaigns.

“We don’t have much time,” Goodman said. “I don’t think the president will leave. But I think it would be Kamala if it did.

There was no such suggestion at Mount Airy, where Pastor Louis Felton compared the president to Joseph and the biblical story of his “coat of many colors.” In it, Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers, eventually gaining a high position in Pharaoh’s kingdom, and his brothers beg him for help without initially recognizing him.

“Never count Joseph out,” pleaded Felton. Then, referring to Democrats calling for Biden to step aside, he added, “That’s what’s going on, Mr. People envy you. Jealous of your stubbornness, jealous of your support. I envy God’s hand in your life.

Felton led a prayer where he said, “Our president is discouraged. But today, by Your Holy Spirit, renew his mind, renew his spirit, renew his body.

After the church service, Biden went to a campaign office in Philadelphia, where Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. John Fetterman wins a tough 2022 race while recovering from a stroke.

“There’s only one guy who can beat Trump,” Fetterman said. “He’s going to do it twice and knock him out for good.”

Later, after stepping off Air Force One in Harrisburg, the president was asked if the Democratic Party was behind him and answered with an emphatic “yes.”

Joining him at the union event were Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean said, “Democracy is on the line. There’s a man who understands that, Joe Biden.

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Isabelle Afonso, who watched Biden speak in Harrisburg, said she was worried when she watched the president’s debate shows, but didn’t think he should drop out of the race and said he could win. “I know he is old, but if something happens to him, I know he will be replaced by a reasonable person,” said Afonso, 63.

At the same event, James Johnson, 73, said he knows what it’s like to forget things as he gets older, but called Biden “a fighter.” He said that changing the president in the Democratic Party would cause confusion.

“I’m talking about lifelong Democrats and people who have been in the Democratic Party for a long time,” Johnson said. “They may decide to jump ship because of that.”

Still, others aren’t entirely convinced.

Senate Democrat from Connecticut. Chris Murphy told CNN that Biden “needs to answer the questions voters are asking.” At the same time, “I think if he does that this week, he’ll be in a good position.”

Biden has refused to undergo independent cognitive testing, arguing that the daily rigors of the presidency are proof enough of his mental acuity. Nevertheless, Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, told NBC on Sunday, “I would be happy if both the president and Donald Trump took a cognitive test.”

Schiff seized on Biden’s suggestion during the ABC interview that it was acceptable to lose to Trump, as some Democrats have done.

“It’s not just about whether he gave his best collegiate effort, but whether he made the right decision to run or pass the torch,” Schiff said.

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Weissert and Mascaro reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Kevin Freking in Washington, Michelle Price in New York, Meg Kinnard in Chapin, South Carolina, and Bill Barrow in New Orleans contributed to this report.

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