Clooney suggests Biden step down and Democrats choose a new candidate

Clooney suggests Biden step down and Democrats choose a new candidate

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign faced significant turbulence on Wednesday as House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and celebrity donor George Clooney suggested he should step down, and Democratic senators and lawmakers voiced concerns about his ability to defeat Republican Donald Trump. Vermont Sen. Peter Welch became the first Senate Democrat to call for Biden’s withdrawal, citing the high stakes of the upcoming election.

Pelosi’s comments on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” were notably non-committal, stating, “It’s up to the president to decide” if he should stay in the race. She emphasized the urgency of Biden making a decision soon, as time is running short. This sentiment was echoed by other Democrats, including Rep. Pat Ryan of New York and Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who also publicly urged Biden to step aside.

The Democratic Party is at a critical juncture, contemplating the once-unthinkable scenario of having the incumbent president step down just weeks before the Democratic National Convention. Biden’s recent performance at the NATO summit in Washington, where he hosted world leaders, was seen as an opportunity to demonstrate his capability despite a lackluster showing in the first presidential debate with Trump.

Biden faces further scrutiny on Thursday, with a scheduled news conference and a private meeting between his top advisers and the Senate Democratic caucus to address concerns and bolster support. Welch’s opinion piece in the Washington Post highlighted Biden’s “disastrous debate performance” and the growing unease within the White House and among Senate Democrats about his ability to win the November election.

Despite these challenges, Biden retains strong support from key segments of his coalition, particularly within the Congressional Black Caucus. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota stressed the importance of unity, stating, “Democracy is on the line. Everything we value as Democrats, as a country, is on the line, and we have to stop being distracted.”

Pelosi’s stance is closely watched, given her influential position and long-standing relationship with Biden. Her lack of a full endorsement for Biden’s continued campaign is significant, even as she later expressed confidence in his ability to win. Clooney’s op-ed in the New York Times added to the chorus of voices calling for Biden to step down, describing the president’s recent performance as a shadow of his former self.

Clooney’s call for Biden to withdraw is particularly impactful given his history of support for the president. He has been a prominent donor and advocate, hosting a major fundraiser for Biden’s reelection campaign just weeks ago. Clooney’s opinion piece urged key Democratic leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, to ask Biden to “voluntarily step aside.”

The actor’s assessment of Biden’s current state, based on personal interactions, underscores the gravity of the situation. Clooney’s influence in Hollywood and his longstanding relationship with Biden add weight to his call for a change in leadership. He also suggested potential replacements for Biden, including Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Vice President Kamala Harris, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Clooney’s op-ed reflects a broader sentiment among Democrats who are increasingly anxious about Biden’s ability to secure a victory in November. The past 24 hours have seen a flurry of devastating headlines and growing calls for Biden to step down, with at least ten members of Congress from his own party publicly urging him to withdraw.

The situation is further complicated by the cancellation of a planned fundraiser in Chicago, which was expected to be a significant event for Biden’s campaign. Organizers decided not to proceed with the event, citing the continued erosion of support for Biden’s candidacy.

Clooney is not alone in his call for Biden to step down. Rob Reiner, another prominent Hollywood Democrat, has also urged the president to withdraw, emphasizing the existential threat to democracy posed by a potential Trump victory. Reiner’s social media posts echoed Clooney’s sentiments, calling for a younger candidate to take up the fight.

As Biden’s campaign grapples with these challenges, the president and his team are working to shore up support. Biden met with labor leaders on Wednesday, relying on unions to help make the case that his record in office matters more than his age. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has also reiterated his support for Biden, emphasizing the importance of defeating Trump in November.

Biden’s advisers, including Mike Donilon, Steve Ricchetti, and Campaign Chair Jen O’Malley Dillon, are set to meet with Democratic senators privately to address their concerns. However, there are concerns that this meeting could backfire if Biden does not make the case to senators himself.

Pelosi, while acknowledging Biden’s accomplishments and his strong performance at the NATO summit, urged Democrats to hold off on any announcements about his campaign. She encouraged them to wait and see how the situation develops this week before making any decisions.

As the Democratic Party navigates this critical moment, the question remains: who is the best person to stop Trump? This was the question when Biden decided to run in 2019, and it continues to be the essential test of a Democratic nominee today.

Source: Associated Press, CNN

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