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Biden Tells Democratic Lawmakers to ‘End’ Debate Over His Reelection Campaign

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to speak to supporters and volunteers during a campaign stop at a Biden-Harris campaign election office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 7, 2024.
U.S. President Joe Biden arrives to speak to supporters and volunteers during a campaign stop at a Biden-Harris campaign election office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 7, 2024.

By Ken Bredemeier

U.S. President Joe Biden told congressional Democrats in a letter Monday that he stands firm in his decision to seek reelection and said it is time for the party “to end” the drama over whether he will step aside because of his much-maligned performance in the recent debate against former president Donald Trump.

A small but growing number of Democratic Party lawmakers in the House of Representatives have publicly called for the 81-year-old Biden to end his reelection campaign. Numerous others have privately voiced the same opinion since Biden, both looking and sounding exhausted, repeatedly lost his train of thought at the June 27 face-to-face confrontation with Trump.

Biden has resisted, however, saying that only “the Lord Almighty” could force him out.

He told Democratic lawmakers, as they returned to Washington from the July 4 Independence Day holiday, that "the question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it's time for it to end."

"I want you to know that despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump," Biden wrote.

He said the party’s “one job” was to defeat Trump, who served as president from 2017 to early 2021 and lost the last national election to Biden four years ago.

"We have 42 days to the Democratic Convention and 119 days to the general election" on November 5, Biden said in the letter. "Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It's time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump.

Biden also called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, saying, “I don’t care what those big names think. They were wrong in 2020 [about Trump’s chances of winning the presidency] … and they are wrong in 2024.” He said that “average Democrats” want him to stay in the race.

“I’m getting frustrated by the elites in the party,” Biden said. “Oh, they know so much more. Any of these guys that don’t think I should run, run against me. Announce for president, challenge me at the convention,” the national Democratic gathering in Chicago in August where the party will formally nominate its presidential candidate.

Biden’s letter to congressional Democrats kicked off a crucial week for him as he tries to salvage his five-decade political career and his 2024 campaign. Trump, set to be nominated as the Republican presidential candidate at his party’s national convention in the Midwestern city of Milwaukee next week, has pulled ahead of Biden in numerous national polls and surveys in crucial political battleground states. The contest, however, remains close and volatile, seemingly subject to the good moments and bad for both candidates.

Biden is set to host a meeting of NATO, the West’s main military alliance, in Washington starting Tuesday and hold a rare solo news conference Thursday.

Sunday’s news talk shows were filled with angst from Democrats about Biden’s chances and whether he ought to end his candidacy, with Vice President Kamala Harris the most likely replacement if Biden were to drop out.

House lawmaker Adam Schiff, a Democratic Senate candidate in California in the November election, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” show: “Ultimately, this is a decision President Biden is going to have to make and President Biden alone.”

Schiff said Biden’s “performance on the debate stage, I think, rightfully raised questions among the American people about whether the president has the vigor to defeat Donald Trump. It should not be even close. And there's only one reason it is close, and that's the president's age.”

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Biden supporter, told CNN’s “State of the Union” show, “This week is going to be really critical.” He described Biden as “one of the best person-to-person politicians this country has seen, but the question is whether that is still the case. There is a lot of anxiety in the country and party.”

Longtime Democratic strategist David Axelrod told another CNN show, “Inside Politics,” that Biden is “dangerously out of touch” with his falling standing in the race against Trump.

Axelrod said Biden has often beaten personal tragedies and political odds in his career, but “what he can’t beat is Father Time. He’s not winning this race. It’s more likely he’ll lose by a landslide than win narrowly.”