After brief rally, Biden on the ropes again – National & International News – WED 10Jul2024

Earlier in the week, many Capitol Hill Democrats seemed to fall into line as Biden insisted he was staying in the 2024 race despite his calamitous debate performance. But developments today show the revolt is not dead yet.

After brief rally, Biden on the ropes again

Democrats in Congress have been slow to go public with calls for Biden to end his 2024 run, but reports from behind-the-scenes suggest that many are vacillating between fear, anger, despair and resignation about Biden’s ability to continue his candidacy. A handful of House Democrats have already come forward with their calls for Biden to step down. Yesterday the first Democratic Senator came forward to voice his concerns. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) said he feared that Biden would lose to Trump in “a landslide”. Today, Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Peter Welch of Vermont made similar statements. 

A very few have come forward to enthusiastically support Biden in staying in the race. Most have simply stated that Biden is the nominee and that they will support him if he decides to stay in the race. The rest seem to be waiting and watching for signals from leadership before sticking their necks out one way or another.

Just yesterday, there were reports of a meeting of swing-state Democrats, some of whom were in tears, fearing that nothing would move Biden to drop out. Members running in tight re-election races fear that if Biden remains at the top of the ballot, he would not only lose to Trump, but also probably sink down-ballot candidates as well.

Second wind?

However, just as resignation was starting to set in, the quiet revolt has seemed to get a second wind on Wednesday. In a much-scrutinized interview on MSNBC, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to leave the door open for Biden to leave.  “It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” Pelosi said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short”. This suggested that she hasn’t taken Biden’s repeated insistence that he was staying in the race as the final word. Reports say that House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have been tight-lipped in private meetings on the prospects of Biden staying in the race.

In addition, the New York Times published a scathing op-ed by George Clooney in which the actor called on Biden to step down to “save democracy”. Clooney is a major Democratic fundraiser who is very connected in the party. Just over a week before the debate, Clooney held a fundraising event for Biden in California where former President Barack Obama also appeared.

In the op-ed, Clooney says the Biden he met three weeks ago was not the Biden of 2010. “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020,” Clooney wrote. “He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate”. Clooney bluntly assessed that “We are not going to win with this president”. He also says Democratic leaders “need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw,” referring to the audience of the debate with Donald Trump.

On Thursday, Biden will be giving a rare press conference, which his own staff are calling a “Big Boy press conference“. Congressional Democrats will be watching closely. If Biden stumbles, it will embolden the rebels, but if he appears on top of his game, the career-minded Democrats will probably fall back into line behind him.

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