Democrat Says Biden “Failed” in Debate, Calls on Him to Withdraw

It’s official: Representative Lloyd Doggett is the first Democratic lawmaker to call for President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race, after his disastrous appearance at a CNN debate last week.

In a statement Tuesday, the Texas Democrat lauded Biden for taking over after the “wreckage” of Donald Trump’s presidency and the Covid-19 pandemic but said that “for more than a year, many Americans have indicated dissatisfaction with their choices in this election.

“President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump,” Doggett said. “I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not. Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies.

“Our overriding consideration must be who has the best hope of saving our democracy from an authoritarian takeover by a criminal and his gang,” he continued, noting that the Supreme Court had only the day before created a “law-free zone around the President.”

“President Biden saved our democracy by delivering us from Trump in 2020. He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024.”

Doggett referred to President Lyndon Johnson, who “made the painful decision to withdraw” from the 1968 election due to his waning popularity against Richard Nixon. “President Biden should do the same,” Doggett said.

Biden’s lackluster performance at last week’s presidential debate, in which he gave lengthy, often incoherent answers and repeatedly failed to refute Trump’s dangerously inaccurate claims, has created growing waves of dissent throughout the previously united Democratic Party. In the debate’s wake, Democrats have started pushing for Biden to step aside, so that a younger candidate can take up the mantle of securing the White House.

This dissent may only continue to grow among Democratic lawmakers. While the Biden campaign has rushed to assure donors and activists that the president is still up for the task of defeating Trump, there has been little outreach to the Democrats on Capitol Hill, according to Politico.

Democratic Senate hopeful Tim Ryan, who previously served in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2023, also called Tuesday for the president to withdraw from the presidential race. Unlike Doggett, he made a pitch for who should replace Biden: Vice President Kamala Harris.

“We have to rip the band aid off! Too much is at stake,” Ryan wrote in a post on X, sharing the link to a Newsweek opinion piece arguing for Harris’s candidacy. Ryan also shared a link to a new CNN poll that found that Harris was polling slightly better than Biden against Trump.

Representative James Clyburn said during an interview on MSNBC Tuesday that he would also support Harris if Biden “were to step aside.” While Clyburn did not call for the president to withdraw from the race, his comment might mark a significant defection from the South Carolina Democrat, whose endorsement was something of a linchpin for Biden’s nomination in 2020.

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