As Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania, some Democratic leaders say he should step aside

As Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania, some Democratic leaders say he should step aside

President Joe Biden on Sunday urged his supporters to remain united during a series of critical Sunday stops in Pennsylvania, even as some leading congressional Democrats privately suggested it was time.

US President Joe Biden
As Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania, some Democratic leaders say he should step aside

President Joe Biden on Sunday urged his supporters to remain united during a series of critical Sunday stops in Pennsylvania, even as some leading congressional Democrats suggested privately that it was time to abandon a re-election bid amid growing questions about whether he is fit for a second term. . Addressing a spirited church service at Philadelphia's Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in front of the sun-bathed stained glass windows, Biden, 81, joked, “I know I look 40” but “I've been doing this for a long time. Time. ” “I have, honest to God, never been more optimistic about the future of America if we stick together,” he said.

There and during a subsequent rally with union members in Harrisburg, Biden gave short speeches that touched on familiar topics. But he left plenty of room for key supporters to stand up and debate him. Thus, the Pennsylvania swing appears to be more about showing support from the major political parties than proving that the president can last for four years.

His party, however, is deeply divided.

As Congress prepares to resume this week, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries called members of the top committee on Sunday afternoon to weigh in on their votes. Rep. of New York. Jerry Nadler, Rep. of Connecticut. Jim Himes and California Rep. Several Democratic committee leaders, including Mark Takano, said privately that Biden should step aside, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

But other top Democrats, including members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, argued strongly that Biden remains the party's pick. The conversation was wide-ranging, with committee leaders sharing diverse views on the situation, but no consensus on what should be done, the people said.

Biden was personally calling lawmakers over the weekend. He joined the call with campaign surrogates and reiterated that he has no plans to drop out of the race. Instead, the president vowed to campaign harder and increase his political travel, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

A Democrat the president spoke with, Sen. Alex Padilla of California, said he and others are pushing the Biden campaign to “let Joe be, get him out of there.”

“I absolutely believe we can turn it around,” 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, as previously discussed, and that those discussions would take place at Tuesday's regular caucus luncheon with all Democratic senators. The person said the private meeting was no longer possible after it became public that the Virginia Democrat was reaching out to senators about Biden and various conversations between senators.

Five other, different Democratic lawmakers have already publicly called on Biden to abandon his re-election campaign before November. Meeting in person this coming week means more opportunities for lawmakers to discuss concerns about Biden's ability to face the remaining four months of the campaign — not to mention four more years in the White House — and the real possibility of beating Republican presumptive Donald Trump.

Biden's campaign team has been calling and texting lawmakers to try to weed out more potential defections, as well as asking high-profile Biden supporters to speak on his behalf.

Yet calls to bow came from different directions.

Alan Clendenin, a member of the Tampa City Council and a member of the Democratic National Committee, called on Biden on Sunday to “step aside and allow Vice President Kamala Harris to advance her agenda as our Democratic nominee.” Director Rob Reiner, who has helped organize glitzy Hollywood fundraisers for Biden in the past, posted on X, “It's time for Joe Biden to step down.”

The Democratic convention is fast approaching, and Biden's Friday interview with ABC left some skeptical.

Democratic fundraising bundler Barry Goodman, a Michigan lawyer, said he is supporting Biden but, if he steps aside, he will give his support to Harris. That's notable because Goodman was also finance co-chairman for both statewide campaigns of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has also been mentioned as a top-of-the-ticket choice.

“We don't have much time,” Goodman said. “I don't think the president will get out. But if he did, I think she would be Kamala.

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

“Never count Joseph out,” pleaded Felton. Then, referring to Democrats who have called on Biden to step aside, he added, “Mr. President, this is what's going on. People envy you. Jealous of your stick-to-evidentity, jealous of your adaptability. Jealous of the hand of God upon your life.”

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

After the church service, Biden visited a campaign office in Philadelphia, where Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat who won a tough 2022 race while recovering from a stroke, made a strong endorsement.

“There's only one guy who's beaten Trump,” Fetterman said. “And he's going to do it twice and put him down for good.”

Later, exiting Air Force One in Harrisburg, he was asked if the Democratic Party was behind him, and he responded with an emphatic “yes.”

Joining him at the union event, Rep. Madeleine Dean, also a Pennsylvania Democrat, said that “democracy is on the way. One man who understands this is Joe Biden. “

Isabel Afonso, who saw Biden speak in Harrisburg, said she was concerned when she saw the president's debate performance, but didn't think he could drop out of the race and still win. “I know he's old, but I know if something happens to him, a reasonable person will take his place,” 63-year-old Afonso said.

At the same event, James Johnson, 73, said he knows what it's like to forget things as you get older but called Biden “a fighter.” He said replacing the president at the top of the Democratic ticket would only lead to confusion.

“I'm talking about lifelong Democrats and people who have been in the Democratic Party for a long time,” Johnson said. “So they may decide to jump ship.”

Still, others aren't entirely convinced.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told CNN that Biden “needs to answer voters' questions,” adding, “If he does that this week, I think he'll be in a very good position.”

Biden has refused to take an independent cognitive test, arguing that the daily rigors of the presidency are evidence of his mental acuity. Yet Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California told NBC on Sunday that “both the president and Donald Trump would be happy if they took a cognitive test.”

As some Democrats have done, Schiff on Biden suggested during an ABC interview that it would be acceptable to beat Trump “as long as I give it my all.”

“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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