NATIONAL NEWS

Biden tells Hill Democrats he ‘declines’ to step aside and says it’s time for party drama ‘to end’

Jul 8, 2024, 7:39 AM

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on July 7, 20...

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on July 7, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. President Biden continued to campaign amid mounting pressure for him to drop out from running for his re-election bit. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden, in a letter to congressional Democrats, stood firm against calls for him to drop his candidacy and called for an “end” to the intraparty drama that has torn apart Democrats about whether he should stay in the race after his dismal public debate performance.

Biden wrote in the two-page letter Monday that “the question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end.” He stressed that the party has “one job,” which is to defeat presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in November.

“We have 42 days to the Democratic Convention and 119 days to the general election,” Biden said in the letter. “Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It’s time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump.”

The letter was sent from the campaign to Democratic lawmakers as they return to Washington following the July 4 recess.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.


WASHINGTON (AP) — Deeply torn over President Joe Biden’s candidacy, Democratic lawmakers return to Washington at a pivotal moment as they decide whether to work to revive his campaign or edge out the party leader, a make-or-break time for his reelection and their own political futures.

Anxiety is running high as top-ranking Democratic lawmakers are joining calls for Biden to step aside after his dismal public debate performance and defiant response to the uproar. At the same time, some of the president’s most staunch supporters are redoubling the fight for Biden’s presidency, insisting there is no one better to beat Republican Donald Trump in what many see as among the most important elections of a lifetime.

As lawmakers weigh whether Biden should stay or go, there appear to be no easy answers in sight.

It’s a tenuous and highly volatile juncture for the president’s party. Democrats who have worked alongside Biden for years — if not decades — and cherished his life’s work on policy priorities are now entertaining uncomfortable questions about his political future. And it’s unfolding as Biden hosts world leaders for the NATO summit this week in Washington.

Time is not on their side, almost a month from the Democratic National Convention and just a week before Republicans gather in Milwaukee to renominate Trump as their presidential pick. Many Democrats are arguing the attention needs to be focused instead on the former president’s felony conviction in the hush money case and pending federal charges in his effort to overturn the 2020 election.

It’s what Biden himself might call an inflection point. As he defiantly says he will only step aside if the Lord almighty comes and tells him to, Democrats in the House and Senate are deciding how hard they want to fight the president to change course, or if they want to change course at all.

In an effort to “get on the same page,” House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries is convening lawmakers for private meetings before he shows his own preference, according to a person familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it. He plans to gather Democrats on Monday whose bids for reelection are most vulnerable.

But a private call Sunday of some 15 top House committee members exposed the deepening divide as at least four more Democrats — Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state and Rep. Mark Takano of California — privately said Biden should step aside.

Nadler, as the most senior ranking member on the call, was the first person to speak up and say that Biden should step aside, according to a person familiar with the call who was granted anonymity to discuss it. He did so aware of his seniority and that it would allow others to join him.

Many others on the call raised concerns about Biden’s capability and chance of winning reelection, even if they stopped short of saying Biden should step out of the race.

Still other members, including Rep. Maxine Waters of California and Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, both leaders in the Congressional Black Caucus, spoke forcefully in support of Biden, as did Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

And several lawmakers appeared frustrated that leadership was not providing direction or a path forward, according to people familiar with the call. One Democratic lawmaker said regardless of the decision, the situation has to “end now,” one of the people said.

Neal said afterward that the bottom line is Biden beat Trump in 2020 and “he’ll do it again in November.”

The upheaval also is testing a new generation of leaders, headed by Jeffries and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Both New Yorkers have refrained from publicly directing lawmakers on a path forward as they balance diverse opinions in their ranks.

Behind the scenes is Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, who continues to field calls from lawmakers seeking advice about the situation, and is widely viewed as the one to watch for any ultimate decision on Biden’s future because of her proximity to the president and vote-counting skills in party politics.

Pelosi spoke up last week, saying Biden’s debate performance raised “legitimate” questions he needed to answer, but she has remained supportive of the president. And Biden called her last week when he reached out to other party leaders.

When Biden’s prime-time ABC interview on Friday appeared to do little to calm worried Democrats, and some said made the situation worse, Pelosi stepped forward to publicly praise Biden on social media as a “great President who continues to deliver for America’s kitchen table.” She added, “and we’re not done yet!”

Schumer has kept a lower profile throughout the ordeal but will convene Democratic senators Tuesday for their weekly lunch when senators are certain to air many views.

One Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, had intended to gather senators Monday to discuss Biden privately, but a person familiar with his thinking said those conversations will take place in Tuesday’s regular caucus luncheon with all Democratic senators.

Another Democrat, Sen. Alex Padilla of California, said it was “time to quit the hand-wringing and get back to door knocking.”

Padilla spoke with Biden over the weekend, and urged his campaign to “let Joe be Joe.”

“Given the debate, I think the campaign has no choice,” Padilla said Sunday, explaining that Biden needs to hold town halls and unscripted events to show voters “the Joe Biden I know, and that most people in American have come to grow and love.”

While some deep-pocketed donors may be showing discomfort, strategists working on House and Senate races said they posted record fundraising as donors view congressional Democrats as a “firewall” and last line of defense against Trump.

House Democrats have had some of their better fundraising days yet, including a $3 million haul last Friday night after the debate at an event with former President Barack Obama and Jeffries in New York City. That’s on top of $1.3 million that rolled into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the debate and its immediate aftermath.

Senate Democrats are also seeing a “surge” of support, according to a national Democrat with knowledge of Senate races.

As Democratic candidates campaign alongside Biden, the advice has been to focus on building their own brands and amplifying the way the work that’s done in Congress affects their local districts.

__

Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Kevin Freking and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

The 2002 Olympic cauldron is pictured at the Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron Plaza at the Universit...

Lisa Riley Roche

Inside the last-minute drama that brought changes to Utah’s Olympics bid

Concerns raised about U.S. response to doping allegations caused concern award might not happen on Pioneer Day.

4 hours ago

The aftermath of Biscuit Basin's hydrothermal explosion Tuesday morning. (United States Geological ...

Andrew Adams

Explosion sends tourists running at Yellowstone National Park’s Biscuit Basin

A seismologist at the University of Utah said hydrothermal explosions like the one caught on camera at Yellowstone's Biscuit Basin early Tuesday happen as often as twice a year at the park, but scientists are working to better predict them.

8 hours ago

emergency lights...

Carlysle Price

Soldier from Provo killed by suspected DUI driver

A U.S. soldier from Provo, UT was killed after he was hit by a woman driving under the influence of alcohol Monday night.

11 hours ago

Sen. Bob Menendez, pictured leaving Manhattan federal court on July 16, will resign his seat effect...

Laura Dolan, Lauren Fox and Clare Foran, CNN

Bob Menendez will resign his US Senate seat effective August 20

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey will resign his seat effective August 20, according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN.

17 hours ago

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a nationally televised address from the Oval Office of the White ...

Aamer Madhani

Biden will address the nation Wednesday on his decision to drop his 2024 Democratic reelection bid

President Joe Biden will address the nation from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening on his decision to drop his 2024 Democratic reelection bid.

22 hours ago

FILE - A Delta Air Lines jet leaves the gate, Friday, July 19, 2024, at Logan International Airport...

Matt Ott, AP Business Writer

US opens investigation into Delta after global tech meltdown leads to massive cancellations

U.S. regulators open investigation into Delta, which is struggling to restore operations after tech meltdown leads to cancellations.

24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Biden tells Hill Democrats he ‘declines’ to step aside and says it’s time for party drama ‘to end’