‘Pass the Torch’: Even Biden’s Deep-Pocketed Business Backers Want Him Out

Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz
Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz

A cohort of left-leaning titans of industry is the latest group to call on Joe Biden to bow out of the 2024 presidential election, writing in a statement Wednesday that it’s time for the president to “pass the torch.”

The organization, called the Leadership Now Project, is made up of more than 400 politically active current and retired executives, a majority of whom back progressive causes and candidates.

In a statement, the group wrote that there’s a whole new “generation of highly capable Democrats” waiting for their chance to defeat Donald Trump—something they fear an 81-year-old Biden is no longer able to do.

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The group said Thursday’s debate was “deeply concerning.” Not just because of Biden’s struggles to speak coherently at times, but also because he failed to challenge Trump as he rattled off lie after lie.

“Biden failed to effectively make the case against Trump, and we now fear the risk of a devastating loss in November,” they wrote. “The threat of a second Trump term is such that we must ask President Biden and the Democratic Party to pass the torch.”

The group conceded a last-second switch at the top of the ticket would be “messy,” but they asserted the “stakes are too high not to act.”

Members of the organization includes Eddie Fishman, who runs the investment firm D.E. Shaw & Company; Jeni Britton, the founder of Jeni’s Famous Ice Cream; Paul Tagliabue, a former NFL commissioner; and John Pepper, the former chief executive of Procter & Gamble.

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They join two sitting Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and scores of political analysts who’ve called on Biden to call it quits on his five-and-a-half decade political career.

Biden has given mixed signals on what he plans to do, with a report from The New York Times on Wednesday morning claiming he told an ally he was considering dropping out. Publicly, however, both he and his mouthpieces—for his campaign and in the White House—have insisted he’s mentally and physically capable of winning in November and governing for another four years.

The president conceded at a fundraiser on Tuesday that he “didn’t have my best debate night” but pointed to his campaign’s adding a whopping $38 million to its war chest since then.

“So far, so good,” he said. “I’m feeling good about what’s happening.”

That sentiment may soon change if big names—and his deep-pocketed donors—start to change their tune on backing Biden, especially as new polls suggest his debate performance is hurting him heavily in polls.

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The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that some Biden donors have justified their continued support by equating him to Yoda from Star Wars, who is “old and frail yet wise and influential.” They also claim that Trump, who’s 78 himself, is more like Jabba the Hutt, “a gluttonous and powerful gangster.”

Leadership Now hinted that others in the business world are already hoping Biden throws in the towel, but are too afraid to call for it publicly.

“We have heard from many individuals who share our deep concerns about the present course but fear speaking out,” they wrote. “But speaking out is our duty in a democracy and the time to do it is now. We call on others to join us in making this urgent call.”

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