Joe Biden Says ‘They’re Forcing Me Out’ as Senator’s Ouster Plot Revealed

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

President Joe Biden told a rally in Wisconsin Friday that “they’re trying to force me out of the 2024 race”—at exactly the time that an ouster plot led by a Senate heavyweight was revealed.

The president traveled to Madison to address supporters in an energetic and largely gaffe-free speech, telling the crowd, “some folks don’t seem to care who you voted for. Well, guess what, they’re trying to push me out of the race.”

As he spoke, the Washington Post disclosed that Mark Warner, the Democratic senior senator from Virginia, is rallying support from other senators to go to Biden on Monday and ask him to quit the race—casting light on who Biden’s “they” might be. Warner is vice chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and a centrist who had previously been a Biden loyalist.

The senator was reported by the Post to be attempting to create the sort of delegation that Republicans deployed to persuade Richard Nixon to quit in 1973, but in this case restricting their request to asking Biden to step out of the re-election race. His spokeswoman Rachel Cohen issued a statement to the Post which did nothing to kill off the reporting. It said, “Like many other people in Washington and across the country, Senator Warner believes these are critical days for the president’s campaign, and he has made that clear to the White House.”

Mark Warner in front of sign saying Chairman Mr. Warner

Mark Warner, the senior Virginia senator and a vice chair of the Senate’s Democratic Caucus, is trying to persuade fellow senators to go to Biden on Monday and urge him to step aside.

Saul Loeb/Pool/Reuters

Warner’s scheme is the latest call for Biden to withdraw after his rocky debate performance last week, and comes just a few days after some House Democrats reportedly began circulating a letter to ask Biden to step down.

Post-debate national polls are repeatedly hinting at the likelihood of a second Donald Trump presidency, making vulnerable Democrats in both the House and Senate increasingly worried that having Biden at the top of the ticket will drag down their re-election bids. Among those who have concerns are Warner, who is not up for re-election, but whose state is among those which have been suggested as being back in play for Republicans.

People gather outside U.S. President Joe Biden's campaign event at Sherman Middle School, in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., July 5, 2024.

People gather outside U.S. President Joe Biden's campaign event at Sherman Middle School, in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S., July 5, 2024.

Nathan Howard/Reuters

Democratic fears have also helped spark an anonymous campaign to nominate Vice President Kamala Harris at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago next month, calling for Biden to “graciously step back.”

The feeling that a Biden withdrawal would be a dignified dropout was even present at the Wisconsin rally on Friday, with a protester sneaking in onto the risers behind Biden with a sign that read in capital letters, “PASS THE TORCH, JOE.”

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged his caucus to lay low and make no negative public statements, reflecting the Biden campaign’s overall strategy of hunkering down and supporting Biden until the wheels fall off.

But some Democratic senators in battleground states are doing more than laying low—they simply aren’t making an appearance. Notably, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin did not attend Biden’s rally on her home turf on Friday, although Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Rep. Mark Pocan were there. Her campaign told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week that she would not be in attendance and is “running her own race,” in yet another sign of a vulnerable Democrat seeking to distance themselves from Biden.

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