Senior House Democrats say Biden should step aside during private call

At least four senior House Democrats said President Biden should step aside from the 2024 presidential election during a private phone call Sunday afternoon, sources told The Hill, a concerning sign for the president as he insists on staying in the race after his disastrous debate performance last month.

Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) all voiced support for having a change at the top of the Democratic presidential ticket, three sources familiar with the matter told The Hill. Two of those sources said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) was also part of that chorus of voices.

“They were part of the general sentiment that we need to do something else,” one of the sources told The Hill.

The quartet of Democrats — who all serve as ranking members of key House committees — made their positions known during a private phone call with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), top leaders in the House Democratic Caucus and top Democrats on committees.

Nadler is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, Morelle on the Administration Committee, Takano on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Smith on the Armed Services Committee.

The Hill reached out to the Biden campaign for comment.

The four senior Democrats privately voicing support for Biden stepping aside are joining the five Democratic lawmakers who have publicly called on the president to withdraw from the 2024 race in the days following last month’s lackluster debate performance, where he at times stumbled over his words and appeared to lose his train of thought.

That list includes Reps. Lloyd Doggett (Texas), Mike Quigley (Ill.), Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Angie Craig (Minn.).

Biden sat for an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday in an attempt to quell concerns within the party, but some Democrats say the 22-minute conversation did not achieve that goal.

“The interview didn’t put concerns to rest,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “No single interview is going to do that.”

The California Democrat said Biden’s debate performance “rightfully raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigor to defeat Donald Trump.”

“He should seek out people with some distance and objectivity. He should seek out pollsters who are not his own pollsters. He should take a moment to make the best informed judgment. And if the judgment is run, then run hard, and beat that SOB,” he added.

Biden, despite the mounting public pressure, has said he has no plans of dropping out of the presidential race.

“Let me say this as clearly as I can: I’m the sitting President of the United States.  I’m the nominee of the Democratic party. I’m staying in the race,” Biden wrote on the social platform X on Friday.

Veteran House Democrats, meanwhile, have remained by Biden’s side thus far. Jeffries and Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told reporters last week that Biden should not step out of the race, and a spokesperson for former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) last week said the senior House Democrat “has full confidence in President Biden and looks forward to attending his inauguration on January 20, 2025.”

Last week, however, Pelosi told MSNBC in an interview that it is “legitimate” to ask both Biden and Trump “is this an episode or is this a condition,” which raised questions about her support for Biden.

Amie Parnes contributed.

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