Democrats Give Joe Biden Just Hours to Save His Second Term Run

Animated GIF by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Animated GIF by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Democratic leaders in Congress are waiting until just after Thursday’s NATO summit in Washington has concluded before they make a fateful decision on how to approach President Joe Biden on whether and how he should end his candidacy.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show Wednesday, said she has advised fellow anxious Democrats to hold their fire while Biden hosts leaders from around the world in the nation’s capital. But they will be gone late Thursday. Then it will likely fall to Pelosi and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), another veteran House leader, to meet privately with the president, who is a dear friend and former colleague to both of them.

“I’ve said to everyone: Let’s just hold off,” Pelosi said on MSNBC. “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.”

“Privately” is how Pelosi tends to handle important matters, especially when the future of her party and the country is at stake. Except, however, on “Morning Joe” Wednesday, when she became the most senior Democrat to suggest Biden should reconsider his candidacy when she publicly declined to say whether she still supports the 81-year-old Biden for president.

Pelosi, 85, said “it’s up to the president” to decide but that “we’re all encouraging him to make that decision, because time is running short.

Nancy Pelosi on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss President Joe Biden staying in the election.

Nancy Pelosi on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss President Joe Biden staying in the election.


Less than two hours after she spoke, George Clooney, the actor and major Democratic fundraiser, used a New York Times op-ed to bluntly tell Biden to quit and to do it to “save democracy.” That intervention from a reliable Democratic star and longtime Biden ally will only increase the sense of time running out for Biden.

Waiting until after the NATO meeting concludes means waiting until the next opportunity for Biden to stumble on Thursday afternoon, when he’s scheduled to hold a live press conference to wrap up the summit.

Pelosi’s former longtime chief of staff, John Lawrence, recently mused in his blog, Domeocracy, that First Lady Jill Biden and the president’s sister, Valerie, may conclude that the president’s legacy will be “irreparably shredded if his physical and mental capability become the singular issue of the campaign” rather than focusing on defeating Donald Trump.

Joe Biden fastens a Medal of Freedom around James Clyburn watched by a smiling Nancy Pelosi

Lawrence also floated that it will take the likes of his former powerful boss and Clyburn, a proven rainmaker who turns 84 this month, to meet privately with Biden and make the case that enough is enough — it’s time to save your legacy, save your party and save the country.

Lawrence noted that Clyburn often chastised rank-and-file Democrats with his signature phrase, “If you’re ‘splainin, you’re losin’.”

“Clyburn surely knows there is no way Biden can ’splain his way out” of his disastrous debate performance, which shined a spotlight on the president’s mental acuity and raised serious questions about his fitness to serve as commander in chief.

So far, only a handful of congressional Democrats have openly called for Biden to step aside — even as they privately worry and grouse.

If Democratic congressional leaders, who now worry that Biden could take them down with him, by losing both the House and the Senate to Republicans, do convince the president to abandon his run for relection, Clyburn would play the pivotal role at a brokered Democratic National Convention in Chicago. As Lawrence noted, Clyburn’s longtime former aide Jamie Harrison, is the DNC chairman.

“No one wants to pile on good old Joe at what must be the lowest moment of his career, but there are bigger stakes than preserving Biden’s ego (or his family’s exhortations to stick it out),” Lawrence wote on his blog. But if anyone can play the role of “political seismologist” and convince Biden to end his race, “I would be on Jim Clyburn.”

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