The Democrats Calling for Biden to Drop Out From the 2024 Election

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There is growing alarm among Democrats about the fallout from Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance on June 27, amplifying concerns he can’t beat Donald Trump in November.

But so far, few prominent Democrats have publicly called for Biden to step aside.

One of Biden’s longtime allies, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, left the door open Wednesday for Biden to still decide to drop out of the race, despite his repeated vows to do no such thing. “I want him to do whatever he decides to do, and that's -- that's the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with,” she said on MSNBC. She said that she’s told her colleagues to “hold off” publicly calling for Biden to withdraw until after the ongoing NATO conference in Washington, D.C. wraps up on Thursday. “Let's just hold off, whatever you're thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don't have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week,” she said.

In an earlier TV interview on July 2, she said that it’s a “legitimate question” to ask if Biden’s pauses during the debate were “an episode or is this a condition?” But she stopped short of calling for Biden to withdraw, saying that people should have concerns about Trump’s mental acuity as well. She said opinions are “mixed” about whether Biden’s up to the job, but, she said, “I trust his judgment.”

One of Biden’s most crucial Democratic allies, South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, said on MSNBC on July 2 that he would support Vice President Kamala Harris if Biden were to step aside. That is an obvious statement for a co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign, but it took on additional weight during a period that has been rife with speculation about whether Biden should remain on the ticket.

While it would be nearly unprecedented, Biden could still withdraw from the race before the election. Here are some prominent Democrats who have so far publicly called for Biden to drop out.

Senator Peter Welch of Vermont

Senate Luncheons July 9
Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt.Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Welch became the first sitting Senator to call for Biden to withdraw on July 10. "I understand why President Biden wants to run," he wrote in an essay for The Washington Post. "He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again. But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not. For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race."

George Clooney, actor and Democratic donor

Amazon MGM Studios Los Angeles Premiere Of "The Boys In The Boat"  - Arrivals
George Clooney at a movie premiere on December 11, 2023 in Beverly Hills. David Livingston—WireImage via Getty Images

The movie star has long been a major donor to Democrats. On June 16, he co-hosted a massive $28 million fundraiser for Biden in Los Angeles. On July 10, he broke with Biden when he published a guest column in The New York Times titled, “I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee.” Clooney called for an open convention for Democrats to pick a new candidate, suggesting that the Biden he saw at last month's fundraiser showed similar problems as the man on the debate stage. The one battle Biden cannot win “is the fight against time,” Clooney wrote. “This is about age. Nothing more. But also nothing that can be reversed. We are not going to win in November with this president.”

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington

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Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash. Scott J. Ferrell—Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

Adam Smith of Washington said in a statement July 8 that Biden should step aside “as soon as possible.” He said that Biden’s debate performance “was alarming to watch and the American people have made it clear they no longer see him as a credible candidate to serve four more years as president.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey

Rep. Mikie Sherrill
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J(Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

After a closed door meeting with fellow Democrats on July 9, Rep. Mikie Sherrill said in a statement that Biden should step out of the race and help the party pick a new nominee. "I know President Biden cares deeply about the future of our country,” Sherill wrote on X. “That's why I am asking that he declare that he won't run for reelection.”

Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota

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Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn.Anna Moneymaker—Getty Images

Rep. Angie Craig wrote July 6 on X that she appreciates Biden’s “lifetime of service” but she believes “he should step aside for the next generation of leadership.” Craig is running for reelection in a competitive Congressional district south of Minneapolis.

Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois

United States Representative Mike Quigley
Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. Celal Gunes—Anadolu via Getty Images

The Illinois Congressman told Biden to “let someone else do this” during a July 5 interview on MSNBC. “Mr. President, your legacy is set. We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude. The only thing that you can do now to cement that for all time and prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this,” Quigley said.

Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts 

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Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass.Nathan Posner—Anadolu via Getty Images

Rep. Seth Moulton told the Boston radio station WBUR on July 4 that Biden should step aside. "President Biden has done enormous service to our country, but now is the time for him to follow in one of our founding father, George Washington's footsteps and step aside to let new leaders rise up and run against Donald Trump," Moulton said. In 1796, George Washington decided not to run again for office after two terms as the country’s first President.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas

Lloyd Doggett June 5
Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-TexasTom Williams—CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett was the first Democrat in Congress to call for Biden to step aside. He said in a statement on Tuesday, less than a week after the debate, that Biden’s weak poll numbers and debate performance were an important part of his decision. “President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump,” Doggett said in a statement. “I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not. Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies.”

In his announcement, Doggett referred to former President Lyndon Johnson’s decision in 1968 to withdraw from the Presidential race because of deep divisions within the Democratic party over the war in Vietnam. "I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson,” Doggett said. “Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw. President Biden should do the same."

Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona

Raul Grijalva
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., in 2022Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Arizona Congressman on Wednesday became the second sitting member to call for Biden to drop out. "If he’s the candidate, I’m going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere,” Grijalva told The New York Times. Grijalva, a former chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, added that Biden needed to “shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat — and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race.”

Tim Ryan, former Ohio Congressman from 2003 to 2023

Democrat Senate Candidate For Ohio Tim Ryan Election Night Event
Tim Ryan in 2022Joshua A. Bickel—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Ohio congressman Tim Ryan called for Biden to step aside when he published an OpEd article in Newsweek on Tuesday saying that “it’s time” to make Harris the party’s nominee. “We have to rip the band aid off! Too much is at stake,” Ryan wrote on X. Harris “has significantly grown into her job, she will destroy Trump in debate, highlight choice issue, energize our base, bring back young voters and give us generational change.”

Julian Castro, former Housing Secretary in the Obama Administration

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Julian Castro in 2022Al Drago—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Julian Castro, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017 during the Obama administration, wrote on X on June 28: “Biden had a very low bar going into the debate and failed to clear even that bar. He seemed unprepared, lost, and not strong enough to parry effectively with Trump, who lies constantly.” On Tuesday, Castro said on MSNBC that “another Democrat would have a better shot” at beating Trump.

Jason Lewis, Massachusetts State Senator

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State Senator Jason Lewis in 2015Lane Turner—The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts State Senator Jason Lewis made the comment in a Boston Public Radio interview on June 28 in which compared Biden’s candidacy to a train about to crash. “Our choice is to, you know, jump off that train,” Lewis said.

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