Dem Dam Breaks on Biden: Pelosi Says Fitness is ‘Legitimate’ Question


Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) opened the proverbial floodgates of top Democrats calling for Joe Biden’s ouster from the 2024 presidential ticket on Tuesday, calling his mental fitness a “legitimate question.”

Her comments, in a lunchtime interview with MSNBC, came mere minutes before Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) became the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to call for Biden to bow out of the presidential race. He was quickly followed by Adam Frisch, a Democratic House candidate in Colorado, who echoed the call.

“I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson,” Doggett wrote in a statement. “Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw. President Biden should do the same.”

Tim Ryan, a former lawmaker, indicated he was also ready to move on from Biden earlier Tuesday. He posted to X that “we have to rip the band aid off” and start backing Kamala Harris for president.

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“Too much is at stake,” he added.

Previously, it’d been merely media pundits and Republican politicians who’d called on Biden to recuse himself from the 2024 election and, in some instances, to relinquish the rest of his current term after he severely showed his age in a disaster of a presidential debate last week.

Now, with even the country’s highest-ranking Dems calling Biden’s fitness into question, pressure on the White House may be nearing a breaking point. Doggett asserted that Biden must step aside to keep Trump out of the White House.

“Recognizing that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw,” he said. “I respectfully call on him to do so.”

While no lawmakers were previously bold enough to speak as frankly as Doggett, other Dems insinuated earlier Tuesday they’d support a ticket that didn’t have Biden’s name at the top. That included Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), who told CNN about Biden’s debate debacle, “We have to be honest with ourselves that it wasn’t just a horrible night.”

“I think his four years are one of the great presidencies of our lifetime, but I think he has to be honest with himself,” Quigley added. “This is a decision he’s going to have to make.”

Even those engrained in Biden’s camp are now signaling they’re open to a change. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), a Biden-Harris campaign co-chair, told MSNBC on Tuesday he “will support” Harris if Biden “were to step aside.”

White House insiders who’ve spoken anonymously to the press have painted a chaotic scene behind closed doors. Hunter Biden has reportedly joined meetings with the president and top aides this week, which NBC reported elicited reactions from staff who said things like, “What the hell is happening?”

Those rumors come on the heels of a damning report by Axios, which reported Saturday—citing White House sources—that Biden struggles to work productively beyond 4 p.m. most days.

While the matter has reached political DEFCON 1 for Team Biden, the 81-year-old doesn’t appear poised to bow out without a fight. Seemingly taking advice from Pelosi, he agreed to do a sit down interview with ABC News this week—a conversation with George Stephanopoulos that’s set to air on Friday.

Pelosi indicated earlier Tuesday that those sort of media appearances—and not just reading statements off a teleprompter—is what Biden needs to regain the public’s trust.

“Serious journalists, no-holds-barred, any question’s fair, and just sit there and be Joe,” Pelosi told MSNBC on Tuesday. “Show your values, show your knowledge, show your judgment, show your empathy for the American people, and I think that that would be a great thing for him.”

Biden made his first White House remarks since the debate on Monday, blasting the Supreme Court’s ruling that granted presidents immunity for official acts as “a terrible disservice” to the public.

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He took no questions after he finished his teleprompter-aided speech, continuing his streak of hosting fewer press conferences. (Though, according to a March report by the University of California-Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project, former presidents Donald Trump and George H.W. Bush held less solo press conferences.)

Biden aides acknowledged to Reuters on Monday that its limited-media strategy was no longer tenable, and they planned to have Biden sit down for one-on-one interviews. Pelosi noted, however, that a single interview would not suffice.

“Not one, maybe two—a couple of those,” Pelosi said. “I think that is essential.”

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