Second House Democrat calls for Biden to withdraw from presidential race

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is calling on President Biden to withdraw from the 2024 race, becoming the second sitting Democratic lawmaker to publicly urge the incumbent to step aside after his lackluster performance in last week’s debate.

Grijalva — who has served in Congress since 2003 — told The New York Times in an interview that he will support Biden should he remain at the top of the ticket, but said he thinks it is time for the Democratic Party to select a new nominee.

“If he’s the candidate, I’m going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere,” Grijalva told the newspaper. “What he needs to do is shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat — and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race.”

Grijalva’s remarks came one day after Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a nearly 30-year veteran of the House, became the first current Democratic lawmaker to call on Biden to withdraw from the race, writing in a statement that the incumbent “failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies” during last week’s debate.

Grivalja and Doggett are the only two elected Democrats to publicly call on Biden to step aside thus far, though centrist Democratic Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) have both said they believe Trump will beat Biden in November.

Sources, however, told The Hill that conversations about Biden’s standing at the top of the ticket have been underway behind the scenes since the debate.

One House Democrat, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive conversations, told The Hill on Friday that “it’s time for him to step aside,” noting that it is the sentiment among a number of members of the House Democratic caucus.

“We all were hanging out this morning, a bunch of us together at something. There’s nobody at this point that I spoke with who doesn’t think it’s time for him to step aside,” the lawmaker added.

A second House Democrat, who similarly requested anonymity, would not say if Biden should step aside, but noted that several Democrats are saying so behind the scenes.

“There’s a lot of talk —  talk here, talk from friends at home — saying we need someone who can articulate our message, and we didn’t see that last night,” the lawmaker said. “A lot of people are saying it … [A] majority of people I’ve spoken with today.”

The White House, meanwhile, has been adamant that Biden has no plans of stepping down.

“The president is not dropping out, that’s something the campaign has shared,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday.

“The president is cleared-eyed, and he is staying in the race,” she added. “He’s staying in the race, that is what the president has promised to do … he wants to continue to work on the successes that he’s had, his record.”

Top congressional Democrats have also stood by Biden’s side. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have both expressed support for the president, in addition to veteran House Democrats, like former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.).

Cracks, however, are beginning to emerge in that block of support.

Pelosi on Tuesday told MSNBC it is “legitimate” to ask both candidates “is this an episode or is this a condition,” a comment that made the rounds on social media as the top Democrat potentially losing confidence in the candidate.

On Wednesday, Clyburn on CNN said Biden’s debate performance was “concerning,” but added that he has not noticed a decline in Biden during one-on-one meetings. In a separate interview on NewsNation, however, Clyburn said he would not tell Biden to step aside during a planned phone call.

Updated at 5:34 p.m.

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