So far, no Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called on Biden to step aside as the Democratic nominee. Why it matters.

So far, no Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill have called on Biden to step aside as the Democratic nominee. Why it matters.
  • President Biden leaned on his deep ties to Black voters during a Sunday appearance in Philadelphia.

  • So far, no Black lawmakers in Washington have publicly asked Biden to forgo his reelection bid.

  • It's a show of support that is helping Biden as he works to reassure Democrats that he can win in the fall.

On Sunday, President Joe Biden once again found himself in Philadelphia, a city that has played a crucial role in his political life.

As Biden spoke onstage at the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, one of the most influential Black churches in Philadelphia, he was received warmly by the congregants.

It's a reception that Biden hasn't always gotten recently, as he continues his personal campaign to reassure Democrats that his reelection bid against former President Donald Trump remains viable following his disastrous June debate performance.

For over a week, Biden has been under pressure by Washington lawmakers and many rank-and-file Democrats to make the case that he can handle the rigors of the general election campaign, part of long-running concerns over the 81-year-old Biden's acuity and fitness for office in a second term.

But so far, no Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill has called on Biden to step aside as the Democratic presidential nominee, a show of support that may not hold but at the moment is appearing to give him some breathing room as he works to shore up jittery Democrats.

Why is this development so significant?

Pulse of the Hill

Since last week, at least five House Democrats have called on Biden to forgo his reelection bid and allow the party to select a new nominee.

But no member of the Congressional Black Caucus has made such a plea, and there is seemingly little appetite to do so.

On Sunday, Rep. Joyce Beatty of Ohio told CNN's Eva McKend that Democratic lawmakers shouldn't turn against Biden.

"I don't think for Democrats so close to the majority, so close and being so united under Hakeem Jeffries, we shouldn't be going public, we shouldn't be going rogue against our own President," she said after an appearance at the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

During a Monday appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Beatty — a former CBC chair — said the group was firmly behind both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

"We are 100% with the president," she reiterated. "We are standing with the Biden-Harris team because they have delivered."

And the current CBC chair, Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, said in a statement: "President Joe Biden is the nominee and has been selected by millions of voters across this country, including voters in Nevada."

While House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York — the first Black lawmaker to lead a party in Congress — held a Sunday virtual meeting with his caucus regarding Biden's candidacy, he has so far not publicly weighed in on how the Democratic nominee's campaign should proceed.

A huge "what if" for Biden is if a high-ranking Black lawmaker calls on him to exit the race. Such a move would be a huge blow for a campaign that relies on influential Black surrogates to engage with voters across the country.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, one of Biden's top Black allies in Washington, has voiced his continued support for the president. But Clyburn also said last week that should Biden step aside, he'd endorse a "mini-primary," arguing that it would be a fair process but also one that would likely give Harris a prime opportunity to prove her mettle.

Right now, Biden's most reliable legislative allies are giving him considerable political cover. But will it help him with Black voters in the coming weeks and months?

All eyes on the base

In 2020, Black voters buoyed Biden in the South Carolina Democratic primary, which paved the way for his robust Super Tuesday performance en route to him winning the party's presidential nomination.

That November, Biden won 92% of the Black vote, compared to Trump's 8% support, according to the Pew Research Center.

It was a dominant performance that contributed heavily to Biden's wins in states like Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

But over the past year, Biden has stumbled with his support among Black voters — namely those aged 18 to 29 — as Trump is aiming to siphon minority votes away from the Democratic ticket.

While Black voters are still largely behind Biden, his weaker numbers have contributed to some of his swing-state polling struggles, which have a direct impact on his ability to win against Trump in the fall.

Biden's increased visibility is undoubtedly bringing a sigh a relief to allies who have been privately worried about the president's post-debate electoral prospects.

As Biden leans on his most reliable base of supporters during the most turbulent period of his campaign, it'll be a huge test of his strategy for wooing Black voters as issues like the economy and health care continue to dominate the 2024 race.

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