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House Democrats say Biden should step aside during leadership call

More than a handful of Democratic ranking members told House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a call Sunday that President Joe Biden needs to step away from the 2024 campaign, according to sources familiar with the call.

Jeffries made the call to gauge the sentiment of ranking members after Biden’s disappointing performance in last month’s debate. The call, held before lawmakers return to Washington this week, was marked by deep concern about the potential damage to the Democratic ticket and how it threatens the party’s chances of regaining the House majority.

Jeffries has not shared with his colleagues where he stands on the issue of Biden continuing to run for reelection, a source on the call told CNN.

The number of lawmakers who explicitly said Biden should not be the Democratic nominee was greater than those who advocated for him to remain, one of the sources said. Those who opposed Biden as the nominee included Reps. Mark Takano, Adam Smith, Jim Himes, Joe Morelle, Jerry Nadler and Susan Wild, according to three sources.

Five lawmakers have publicly called for Biden to withdraw from the presidential race: Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Seth Moulton, Raúl Grijalva, Angie Craig and Mike Quigley.

Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Bobby Scott have expressed support for Biden, according to one of the sources.

One concern expressed during the nearly two-hour call was that Democrats would lose their chance at a House majority if Biden were the nominee, one of the sources said, adding that it was generally acknowledged that the nominee should be Vice President Kamala Harris.

“It was pretty brutal,” a senior Democratic aide told CNN speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation between House leaders.

Though absent from the call, lawmakers from the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio and Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, were quick to defend Biden against colleagues calling for the president to step aside.

Beatty, the former CBC president, said Democrats “should not act against our own president” and that Black voters are loyal and will continue to support Biden.

“Any ‘leader’ who is calling for President Biden to step down needs to get their priorities in order and stop undermining this incredible leader who has delivered real results for our country,” Wilson said in a statement.

Decisions on demands for a White House meeting or sending a letter to Biden are not expected to be made before the full Democratic caucus meeting on Tuesday, aides said, but Jeffries made clear he would allow members to express their views and make their own judgments.

A senior House Democrat said he has been on calls and group chats with dozens of colleagues where the consensus is that Biden needs to step aside. The member said the caucus is trying to “find the best way to move forward” while still giving the president the respect they believe he deserves for his successful career.

In the view of a senior House Democrat and another member, Tuesday — the day of the planned caucus meeting — will be the most crucial day for the president this week.

One of the members told CNN who hopes this is the day the dam breaks.

Many Democrats concerned about Biden’s viability as a candidate after his poor debate performance are waiting for Jeffries to take a public stance.

So far, the leader has been in intentional listening mode — as one person told CNN last week, Jeffries has “assiduously” avoided sharing his own judgment on the matter as he continues to assess his own caucus.

Meanwhile, Biden was busy campaigning in battleground Pennsylvania, speaking earlier at a predominantly Black church in Philadelphia before making a surprise stop at a local campaign office — adding to the unplanned and impromptu events his allies have encouraged him to take on. He then headed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he showed his support for the state’s Democrats, Sen. John Fetterman, Rep. Madeleine Dean and Lt. Gov. Austin Davis at a campaign event.

It was between those trips on Sunday that Biden responded with an emphatic “yes” when the press asked if the Democratic Party was still with him.

Source: CNN Brasil

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