The Lawmakers, Donors, and Celebrities Who Have Called for Biden to Drop Out

It’s been two weeks since President Joe Biden’s calamitous debate performance against Donald Trump. Despite his campaign’s best efforts, concerns about his health and mental acuity have not been put to rest, and a host of Democratic lawmakers, celebrities, donors, and media personalities have called for him to drop out of the race.

The president has so far remained defiant, issuing an open letter on Monday blasting his critics and maintaining that he is “firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.”

“The voters — and the voters alone — decide the nominee of the Democratic Party,” Biden wrote. “The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end. We have one job. And that is to beat Donald Trump.”

While Biden and his campaign would prefer that Democrats fall in line and pledge their support to the president, the calls for him to leave the race and for the party to replace him with a younger, more capable candidate are only growing louder.

Here are some of the most notable names inside and outside of politics who have either expressed concern over the 81-year-old president seeking a second term, or outright argued that Biden needs to call it quits:

Senators 

One Democratic senator has explicitly called for Biden to step aside. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) did so in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday. “For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race,” Welch wrote, adding that “we need him to put us first.”

Several other Democratic senators have suggested Biden should take a seat.

Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said on CNN: “Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide and take with it the Senate and the House.”

“I am deeply concerned about Joe Biden winning this November,” Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told reporters, adding that “we have to reach a conclusion” about what to do “as soon as possible.”

Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement that Biden must “must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future” and that “we need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate.”

Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) said in the aftermath of the debate that Biden should “absolutely not” drop out of the race, but appeared to soften his stance this week when he told Axios that“we’ll land in a place where we win in November,” and that Biden is the nominee “right now.”

Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — who has experience in a presidential campaign against Trump as Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate — was similarly mealy-mouthed while speaking with reporters on Wednesday. “I have complete confidence that Joe Biden will do the patriotic thing for the country,” he said. “And he’s going to make that decision. He’s never disappointed me.”

The most important voice in the Senate is that of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer has insisted publicly he is “with Joe,” but Axios reported on Wednesday that he is open to the idea of replacing him on the ticket.

House Members

So far, 19 Democrats in the House of Representatives have called on Biden to remove himself from the race:

Several other House members have expressed concern, most notably Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The former House Speaker during an interview with Morning Joe on Wednesday would not say whether she felt Biden should stay in the race, instead insisting it was up to him. When reminded that Biden already made the decision to stay in the race, Pelosi reiterated that it was Biden’s decision.

Governors

Zero Democratic governors have called for Biden to leave the race. The president met with them the week after the debate to quell concerns, although it doesn’t seem like many of them were convinced he’s up to the task. The New York Times reported that Biden told them he needed to get more sleep and work less at night, with CNN noting that the comment left many of the governors frustrated.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a rising star in the party whose name has been mentioned as a possible Biden replacement, said on Wednesday that “it wouldn’t hurt” for Biden to take a cognitive test. (Whitmer has insisted she isn’t interested in replacing Biden on the ticket.) Illinois Gov. J.P. Pritzker, another rising star in the party, was recently caught on a hot mic saying he doesn’t “like where we are.”

New York Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado called for Biden to step down on Wednesday, writing on X that Biden “can add to his legacy, showing his strength and grace, by ending his campaign and making room for a new leader.”

Politico reported on Wednesday that Biden’s support in deep-blue New York is slipping and that the Democratic stronghold is in danger of becoming a battleground state in November.

Celebrities

George Clooney, a longtime Democrat who hosted a glitzy fundraiser for Biden in June, called for the president to step aside in a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday. “We are not going to win in November with this president,” Clooney wrote. “On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate. This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and Congress member and governor that I’ve spoken with in private. Every single one, irrespective of what he or she is saying publicly.”

Clooney is far from the only celebrity to call for Biden to leave the race. Others to do so include:

Several other notable celebrities — from late-night hosts like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to actor Michael Douglas — have openly expressed their concerns about Biden’s age and ability to serve.

Donors

Democratic donors aren’t happy about Biden’s debate performance, either.

Abigail Disney, granddaughter of the Disney founder, said last week that she plans to withhold donations to the party until Biden drops out of the race. Gideon Stein, another major donor, says he plans to withhold $3.5 million in planned donations until Biden leaves, per The New York Times. Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, a major Democratic Party donor, has also called for Biden to step aside. “Biden needs to step aside to allow a vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump and keep us safe and prosperous,” he told the Times.

It isn’t just big-name, big-money contributors who are upset. NBC News reported on Wednesday that donations have dried up following the debate and Biden’s campaign expects it to get worse. “The money has absolutely shut off,” as one source put it.

Publications 

Major media outlets have spent the aftermath of the debate reporting on Biden’s struggles, which have led many of these outlets to publish editorials calling for him to leave the race. The editorial board of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the most prominent newspaper in Georgia, which Biden narrowly won in 2020, headlined its piece: “It’s time for Biden to pass the torch.” The Chicago Tribune, the biggest newspaper in the city that will host the Democratic National Convention later this summer, also called for Biden to step aside.

So did The New York Times, whose editorial board only needed a day after the debate to publish its piece arguing that the president should leave the race. “The clearest path for Democrats to defeat a candidate defined by his lies is to deal truthfully with the American public: acknowledge that Mr. Biden can’t continue his race,” the Times wrote, “and create a process to select someone more capable to stand in his place to defeat Mr. Trump in November.”

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