First House Democrat publicly calls on Biden to withdraw from 2024 race

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) on Tuesday became the first House Democrat to publicly urge President Biden to remove himself from the 2024 race following his poor performance at last week’s debate.

Doggett — who has served in the House since 1995 — said he had hoped the debate against former President Trump would “provide some momentum” to turbocharge Biden’s poll numbers.

That, however, did not come to fruition, he argued.

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

“I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson. Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw,” he later said. “President Biden should do the same.”

Doggett, who is 77, just four years younger than Biden, lauded the president’s legislative achievements in his years in Washington, but argued that now is a moment to pass the torch in the Democratic Party.

“While much of his work has been transformational, he pledged to be transitional,” Doggett said. “He has the opportunity to encourage a new generation of leaders from whom a nominee can be chosen to unite our country through an open, democratic process.”

“My decision to make these strong reservations public is not done lightly nor does it in any way diminish my respect for all that President Biden has achieved,” he continued.

“Recognizing that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so.”

The statement from Doggett came less than one week after the first Biden-Trump debate in the 2024 race, during which the incumbent at times stumbled over his words and appeared to lose his train of thought.

The performance fueled calls from pundits and some unelected Democratic figures for Biden to step aside from the ticket, a notion that the Biden campaign has strongly rejected. Biden campaign spokesperson Seth Schuster told The Hill last week “of course he’s not dropping out,” and a White House official said “that’s not happening.”

Veteran members of the Democratic Party have also expressed support for Biden, including former President Obama, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“Stay the course,” Clyburn said his message was for Biden last week.

But behind the scenes, Democratic lawmakers have discussed the prospect of Biden stepping aside from the ticket.

A House Democrat, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic, told The Hill last week “it’s time for him to step aside,” noting that other members of the caucus thought the same thing.

“We all were hanging out this morning, a bunch of us together at something. There’s nobody at this point that I spoke with who doesn’t think it’s time for him to step aside,” the lawmaker said.

Doggett on Tuesday spoke to the importance of the November election, arguing that Democrats need to put forward a candidate in the best position to beat Trump.

“Our overriding consideration must be who has the best hope of saving our democracy from an authoritarian takeover by a criminal and his gang. Too much is at stake to risk a Trump victory—too great a risk to assume that what could not be turned around in a year, what was not turned around in the debate, can be turned around now,” he said.

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

He pointed to Monday’s Supreme Court decision granting Trump some immunity in the federal case pertaining to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

“This week, with the Supreme Court creating ‘a law-free zone around the President,’ Trump, newly-empowered with immunity, could usher America into a long, dark, authoritarian era unchecked by either the courts or a submissive Republican Congress,” he wrote.

Updated: 1:33 p.m.

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