Senior House Democrat urges Biden to withdraw from race

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) on Monday called on President Biden to end his reelection bid, becoming the most senior Democratic lawmaker to publicly do so.

“Well, look, I think he should step aside. I think it’s become clear that he’s not the best person to carry the Democratic message,” Smith, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “And here’s the thing. We have an incredibly strong message and record to run on.”

Smith was one of four senior House Democrats to say during a private phone call on Sunday that Biden should withdraw from the race, according to sources familiar with the call.

Smith said Monday he is in favor of having Vice President Harris at the top of the ticket.

“Personally, I think Kamala Harris would be a much better, stronger candidate and because she is, constitutionally, is second. That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” he said, noting he does not think Biden should resign before his term is up.

The Washington lawmaker emphasized that if Biden is selected as the party’s nominee after the convention, he will be “all in” but that he believes Democrats “can do better.”

“Like I said, he gets the nomination, I’m all in. Right now, just like in 2020, when everyone said ‘Joe Biden’s the guy, let’s get behind him,’ I think we need a different choice if we’re going to be able to beat Donald Trump. And that’s what matters. It’s not about Joe Biden. It’s not about individuals. It’s about making sure we move this country in the right direction going forward,” Smith said.

He also suggested that Biden’s team is not tackling questions about his health head-on.

“Now, it doesn’t all have to be on the candidate. Messengers can be good. Wes Moore, [Josh] Shapiro, Gretchen Whitmer, Gavin Newsom — We got really good messengers out there. But your credibility takes a blow if you can’t answer questions about the president’s health and his ability to deliver a message,” he said, referring to the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan and California, respectively.

Smith also issued a statement Monday calling on Biden to release his delegates to the Democratic National Convention so the party can put forward a new candidate.

“If the president continues his campaign, it would be a mistake. He should step aside now so that we can find a new candidate that will put us in the strongest possible position to beat Donald Trump in November,” he said in the statement.

Biden and his campaign have maintained that he will not drop out of the race despite growing calls for him to do so following a disastrous debate performance. Biden, speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, dared other Democrats to challenge him at the national convention this summer, emphasizing that he believes he is the best candidate to beat Trump.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. EDT

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