Former Democratic U.S. presidential candidate fears ‘a landslide’ if Biden stays in race | CBC News – Daily Frontline

Former Democratic U.S. presidential candidate fears ‘a landslide’ if Biden stays in race | CBC News
– Daily Frontline

The mood on Capitol Hill is grimly uncertain for Democrats, who are wrestling over U.S. President Joe Biden’s re-election prospects and the extraordinary question before them: whether to stand behind his candidacy or push the president to bow out amid concerns over his ability to lead them to victory.

House and Senate Democrats met in separate private sessions on Tuesday with tensions running high. The conversation was “dour” and “sad” in the House, lawmakers said, as they discussed their party leader who emphatically refuses to step aside after a disastrous debate performance two weeks ago.

In the Senate, where Biden spent a storied career, many members were tight-lipped with reporters.

“People are all focused on winning right now,” said Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, who is in charge of Senate Democrats’ campaign arm.

When a reporter asked Peters if Democrats could win with Biden, he responded: “He’s our nominee.”

One Senator was remarkably forthright in a CNN interview on Tuesday night.

“I have not seen anything remotely approaching the kind of plan we need to see out of the White House that can demonstrate that he can actually beat Donald Trump,” said Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, who ran for the presidential nomination in 2020.

“Donald Trump is on track to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide,” said Bennet, who took pains to express admiration for Biden preventing a second Trump term in 2020, as well as his legislative accomplishments the past three years as president.

Worry about down ballot races

Bennet stressed that the Nov. 5 vote isn’t just about the Oval Office, but the Senate — where Democrats need to defend their slimmest of margins in a slate that is extremely challenging for the party — while trying to regain control of the House of Representatives after a sometimes chaotic two years with Republicans in charge in that chamber.

The influential Cook Political Report released new data on Tuesday that figured to give the party pause, with Republicans extending a polling lead in some states, and others now less secure for Democrats.

Bennet is among a small group of senators who say Biden must do more to prove that he can win, including Washington’s Patty Murray, the most senior Senate Democrat to do so. But both Murray and Bennet so far have stopped short of calling on Biden to exit the race.

Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois arrives at Democratic National Committee headquarters to discuss the 2024 election and U.S. President Joe Biden’s candidacy Tuesday. Quigley is among a small group publicly calling on Biden to end his presidency after one term. (John McDonnell/The Associated Press)

Democratic House members have been more vocal, though the chamber is more than four times the size of the Senate in terms of numbers.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley was one of the few Democrats to say forcefully in public that he thinks Biden should step down.

“He just has to step down because he can’t win,” Quigley said. “My colleagues need to recognize that.”

Late Tuesday, a seventh House Democrat, Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, publicly called on Biden not to run for re-election.

Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who had a brief 2020 presidential campaign and now leads a contingent of military veterans in the House, is among those in previous days to call on Biden to step aside.

‘I’m with Joe’

However, Biden’s supporters have been more publicly vocal than the doubters.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York repeated to a series of reporter questions, “I’ve said before, I’m with Joe.”

An older clean shaven man wearing glasses and a suit and tie points at someone while standing in front of microphones.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York expressed his support for Biden’s candidacy when he spoke with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C, on Tuesday. (Cliff Owen/The Associated Press)

Biden has also garnered public shows of support from members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), as well as those from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Some progressives who have often been the most apt to criticize some of the White House’s policies the past three years have also given him full-throated support, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

And at least one key House Democrat reversed course.

“He said he’s going to remain in, he’s our candidate and we’re going to support him,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the judiciary committee, on CNN. Over the weekend he was among those privately saying Biden should not run, according to multiple sources who spoke to AP.

Party hopes to focus on Republicans, and soon

The Democratic National Convention to nominate Biden is scheduled for Aug. 19, and the president would have to agree to release his delegates before another candidate could even be contemplated. Even then, the process would be complicated, and some Republican groups have promised lawsuits over ballot access — which is determined at the state level — for any candidate not named Biden.

Biden’s week includes a full schedule, with the 81-year-old shifting between domestic priorities and the 75th anniversary NATO summitwith many eyeing his Thursday news conference at the alliance meetup as another test of his vigour.

He spent part of his Tuesday evening speaking on a virtual call with more than 200 Democratic mayors, saying he will win re-election with “basic block-and-tackling” and boasting of the thousands of calls being made to voters, according to a readout from his campaign. On Wednesday, he is expected to join the executive council meeting for the AFL-CIO, the largest association of trade unions.

Democrats hope to quickly put focus back on the Republicans, who hold a convention next week for a candidate who faces four criminal indictments, and are promising a Project 2025 party agenda the Democrats characterize as authoritarian and radical.

A large clean shaven bald man wearing a hoodie speaks into a microphone outside in front of a small crowd visible in the photograph as nearby an older clean shaven man in sunglasses and a suit and collared shirt stands.
Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania speaks as Biden, left, listens at a campaign rally in Harrisburg, Pa., on Sunday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/The Associated Press)

That list includes John Fetterman, the junior senator from Pennsylvania, who managed to come back from his own worrisome performance in a debate in 2022, amid a long recovery from a stroke.

“Joe Biden is our guy. He’s my guy. And he’s the only guy ever to kick Trump’s ass,” Fetterman said after Tuesday’s meeting.

Asked about the mood in the room as senators met Tuesday, Fetterman joked: “It was magic, like a Taylor Swift concert.”

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