‘We Are So Screwed’: Dems Churn Out Increasingly Desperate Ideas to Dump Biden

Top Democrats, including elected officials, political operatives, and major party donors want President Joe Biden to step aside — “immediately,” many of them say — for a candidate who can more effectively make the case against Donald Trump, and also project the ability to do the hardest job on the planet. The problem is… none of them know how to turn this dream into reality, and none of these Democratic Party players or bigwigs know how they would successfully pressure a famously stubborn Biden into early retirement.

“We are so screwed,” one senior Democratic state official in a key swing-state vented to Rolling Stone just hours after Thursday night’s presidential debate ended. Team Biden had advocated for the CNN event, the first 2024 in-person forum between Biden and former President Trump, banking on an expectations-defying performance that would not only best Trump, but move a presidential race that has remained nerve-fryingly close in the polls for months now.

Instead, they got a Biden performance that was widely and furiously panned within the upper crust of his own party. Less than an hour into the televised debate, an array of Democratic lawmakers and Biden allies on Capitol Hill were already texting and calling one another, pitching different Hail Mary ideas for how to get Biden to step aside and let Vice President Kamala Harris (or maybe just anyone else) face Trump in the November election.

As one Democratic strategist put it, Thursday’s debate “was slightly better than Apollo getting killed by the Russian in Rocky IV.”

The stakes of the 2024 contest could not be higher, for reasons Biden himself has frequently underscored. Trump has been openly campaigning as an authoritarian, vowing to seize dictatorial powers and to seek retribution against his political enemies, while threatening to use the military to round up and deport tens of millions of people currently in the United States.

“What the fuck are we supposed to do now?” one Biden administration official rhetorically asked this publication early Friday morning, despairing at the likelihood of Trump’s return to power.

One Democratic lawmaker relayed to Rolling Stone on Thursday night that several legislators were already talking quietly about staging an “intervention” in the hopes of landing an alternate nominee by the Democratic National Convention in Chicago this August. This lawmaker, however, conceded what more than a dozen other sources in the party elite also admit.

For all the fury and intense desire to dump Biden, no one seems to know how to convince him to bow out, and nobody seems to know how to force him out in a way that wouldn’t risk tearing the Democratic Party to shreds. The intra-party struggle also risks handing the keys to the presidency back to a convicted felon and attempted coup leader who has pledged to turn much of the federal government into a weapon of revenge against his enemies and millions of immigrants, for starters.

There is a conspicuous dearth of elected Democrats — including senators and congresspeople who privately absolutely want Biden to get out of the picture — who are willing to come out and publicly call for an end to Biden’s reelection bid. That is in part because “no one wants to be the first” to do it and cross the party’s leader, says another Democratic lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

Of the notably desperate ideas being kicked around the corridors of Democratic power in Washington, D.C., there’s one that would require recruiting Biden’s former boss for their pressure campaign.

“Maybe Obama will save us,” one Democratic member of Congress hoped, in late-night written communications reviewed by Rolling Stone.

This is in reference to an extremely preliminary plan that, according to two sources familiar with the matter, some liberal lawmakers and their advisers have discussed since Thursday. The idea is for influential Democrats to try to convince former President Barack Obama to meet with Biden and urge him to step aside soon for the sake of the nation.

As of Friday morning, the sources did not know how Obama felt about Biden’s debate performance or chances of beating Trump this year, nor did they know if a plan like this would even work. However, Democratic lawmakers and others familiar with this new idea posit that Obama — with his close relationship with the sitting president, his former VP — is one of a tiny number of people on Earth who might have even the slimmest chance of convincing Biden. (Obama, for his part, posted a half-hearted defense of Biden on X on Friday: “Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know.”)

The upwards of a dozen sources, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly, spoke to Rolling Stone during and in the aftermath of the debate. The sources include members of Congress and their staff, veteran Democratic consultants, fundraisers, and Biden administration officials.

On Friday, Biden appeared at a rally before supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, and attempted to put the embarrassing CNN debate behind him. Speaking from a teleprompter, Biden appeared a far more passable candidate. He acknowledged his poor performance but vowed to persevere in the campaign: “When you get knocked down, you get back up!” Biden said, insisting he is still capable of doing the job of president. “I know I’m not a young man,” he said, admitting: “I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I know. I know how to tell the truth. I know how to do this job.”

For now, many party elders are counseling calm and patience. Biden is also getting support from Sen. John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democrat who easily defeated Dr. Oz in 2022, despite what was widely perceived to have been a damaging debate performance as Fetterman was recovering from a stroke.

“I refuse to join the Democratic vultures on Biden’s shoulder,” he posted on X. “No one knows more than me that a rough debate is not the sum total of the person and their record.” Fetterman’s message to fellow Democrats? “Chill the fuck out.”

A Biden campaign official tells Rolling Stone: “Of course he’s not dropping out. He just gave a very forceful speech at a rally in N.C. with a fired up crowd.” The official adds that the Biden campaign also saw its “best grassroots fundraising day since we launched [in] April 2023.”

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