Biden Gets Unexpected Boost From ‘Squad’ Members He Once Battled

(Bloomberg) -- New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives in Congress are standing by President Joe Biden even as voices across the party call on him to step aside following his disastrous debate against Donald Trump.

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Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar — two members of the “Squad” of liberal lawmakers — signaled Monday that Biden should stay at the top of the ticket.

Their support for the 81-year-old president is notable considering the Squad publicly criticized him earlier in his presidency for negotiating with Republicans while abandoning some of his more lofty campaign promises like free community college.

Biden’s continued support for Israel, despite growing concerns about the way the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has prosecuted the war in Gaza following the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas, has also roiled the party’s left flank. The US and European Union have deemed Hamas a terrorist organization.

But Omar said Monday that Biden has her support.

“Outside of a few outliers, I think everybody’s supporting the president,” she said.

Ocasio-Cortez, who has emerged as one of Biden’s most important surrogates on the campaign trail, told Bloomberg News on Monday that she had spoken “extensively” to Biden over the weekend.

“He has made abundantly clear that he is in this race. He has made abundantly clear that he is not leaving this race. He is the nominee,” she said. “I am making sure that I support him.”

Another Squad member, Representative Cori Bush of Missouri, didn’t commit to backing Biden but blamed his political troubles on “right-wing influences.”

At least nine House Democrats have said they believe Biden should no longer be their presidential nominee, including some senior party members who made their stance known on Sunday on a private virtual call organized by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Representative Adam Smith, the top-ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, became the most senior House member from his party to publicly call for Biden to be replaced.

Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Biden will speak with progressives this week.

Jayapal acknowledged the president’s halting debate performance is concerning, but she urged Democrats to discuss the matter in private.

“I think the conversation is important to have right now because people do have concerns,” Jayapal said. “I just don’t think it should be in public.”

--With assistance from Erik Wasson.

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