‘Abandon Biden’ grows as president’s fitness questioned

‘Abandon Biden’ grows as president’s fitness questioned

US President Joe Biden is facing fresh doubts about his re-election chances from heavyweights Nancy Pelosi and George Clooney, who may influence other Democratic lawmakers and financial donors, and two Senate Democrats.

Biden must decide quickly whether to stay in the 2024 White House race, former House Speaker Pelosi, a longtime Biden ally, said on MSNBC while declining to say definitively that she wanted him to run.

Hollywood star Clooney, a Democrat who co-hosted a star-studded fundraiser for Biden in June, drew his support with a damning opinion piece in the New York Times saying Biden was not the same man he was in 2020.

Actor and Democrat George Clooney has withdrawn his support for US President Joe Biden. (AP PHOTO)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, has privately signaled he’s open to a Democratic candidate other than Biden, according to Axios. Schumer, however, reiterated his support for Biden in a statement following the Axios report.

Senator Peter Welch called on Biden to withdraw in an op-ed published late on Wednesday, the first Democratic senator to explicitly call for the president to step aside.

One major donor said Democratic leaders had indicated they would issue statements of concern after the NATO summit, but did not mention Schumer by name.

“It’s going to be a bloodbath,” the source said, citing growing anger among lawmakers and donors, as well as growing pressure on down-ballot candidates.

The Abandon Biden campaign, which has opposed Biden’s candidacy over his handling of the Israel-Gaza war, on Wednesday urged all Americans to call for Biden to step aside, although saying it also has no delusions about Trump and his “culture of hate.”

Pelosi’s remarks, which ignored Biden’s repeated insistence that he is staying in the race, appeared to be the harbinger of a fresh wave of calls from fellow Democrats to exit the race.

For nearly two weeks, the 81-year-old Biden has sought to stem defections by Democratic lawmakers, donors and other allies worried he might lose the November 5 vote to Republican Donald Trump, 78, after his halting June 27 debate performance.

The president has said he had a bad night at the debate, insisting he will stay in the race and defeat Trump.

Some Democrats worry Joe Biden’s role at the top of the ticket could cost the party’s candidates. (AP PHOTO)

Pelosi said on MSNBC that she was encouraging colleagues on Capitol Hill with concerns about Biden to refrain from airing them while he hosts NATO leaders in Washington this week.

“I’ve said to everyone: let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that on the table until we see how we go this week,” she said, describing Biden’s strong remarks at the NATO summit on Tuesday as “spectacular.”

She declined to say definitively that she wanted Biden to run. “I want him to do whatever he decides to do,” she said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”

Asked at the NATO summit whether he still had Pelosi’s support, Biden responded by raising a triumphant fist.

In his opinion piece, Clooney wrote: “It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the ‘big F-ing deal’ Joe Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate,” Clooney wrote.

“We are not going to win in November with this president. On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate.”

Democrats in Congress remain deeply divided over whether to fall in line behind Biden or to urge him to step aside because of persistent questions about his health and acuity.

Biden, eager to change the story, has surrounded himself with communities of his staunchest supporters, including Black Democratic lawmakers and voters. His campaign has framed sticking with Biden as a return of the loyalty he has shown them through his half-century of public life.