House Democratic leadership to hold call as anxiety over Biden rises

House Democratic leadership is set to hold a call this afternoon, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill, as anxiety rises over President Biden’s standing as the party’s presumptive nominee.

The call — scheduled for 5 p.m. EDT — will include Democratic leadership and members of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, one of the sources said.

The discussion comes as questions — and concerns — are rising about Biden’s ability to remain at the top of the Democratic Party’s ticket after his lackluster debate performance last week.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas) on Tuesday became the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to call on Biden to step aside from the ticket, breaking the wall of public support the president had enjoyed among congressional Democrats in the aftermath of the debate. When asked about other lawmakers in the caucus following suit, another House Democrat told The Hill, “I would think but not sure.”

Shortly after Doggett’s statement, moderate Democratic Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) said they believed former President Trump would beat Biden in November, chipping away at the party’s confidence in their party’s presumptive nominee.

Biden and his team, to be sure, have consistently said the president is up for another four years in office, brushing off last week’s debate as a poor performance by the commander in chief.

“He knows how to do the job, not because he says it, because his record proves it. Because for three and a half years, almost four years, the president’s record has been unprecedented, delivering for the American people,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.

House Democratic leadership and veteran members of the caucus have been also supportive of Biden to this point, though cracks have emerged. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters last week that he does not think Biden should step aside, but later he said, “Until he articulates a way forward in terms of his vision for America at this moment, I’m gonna reserve comment about anything relative to where we are at this moment other than to say I stand behind the ticket.”

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, has expressed support for Biden, but she did tell MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday it is “legitimate” to ask both candidates “is this an episode or is this a condition,” prompting speculation about her confidence in the candidate. Later in the day, her spokesperson Ian Krager said, “Speaker Pelosi has full confidence in President Biden and looks forward to attending his inauguration on January 20, 2025.”

Adding to speculation regarding Biden’s standing as the nominee, The New York Times reported Wednesday that the president told an ally that he is unsure if he can salvage his candidacy after last week’s shaky debate performance. The White House, however, refuted the report.

“That claim is absolutely false. If the New York Times had provided us with more than 7 minutes to comment we would have told them so,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told The Hill.

Updated at 3:47 p.m.

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