Swalwell: Biden needs to ‘show more’ but Trump ‘should step aside’

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) stopped short of defending President Biden Friday but argued that the one who needs to “step aside” ahead of November is former President Trump.

Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes whether he thought Biden should remain the nominee. Swalwell said it would be “a little late” to replace the incumbent but added that the president needs to “show more” as a growing number of elected Democrats call on him to withdraw from the race.

“It’s a little late, Chris, in the election season for a party’s presumptive nominee to step down, but I’m going to call on one of the nominees to do that right here,” Swalwell said Friday. “Donald Trump should step aside. He’s a convicted felon.”

“There are people in this country who are less cruel and more competent, who could do the job, probably 350 million deep,” he added later. “And so that’s the person who should be stepping down.”

Trump was found guilty in late May of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election cycle to buy her silence over an alleged past affair. The former president has denied the claim and vowed to appeal his conviction.

A New York jury also ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to author E. Jean Carroll earlier this year in a civil trial where a jury found the former president liable for sexual battery.

Swalwell was responding to a clip Hayes played of Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), who called on Biden earlier Friday to stand down as the party’s nominee. Swalwell said Biden needs to “show a hell of a lot more.”

The criticism hails from Biden’s poor debate performance over a week ago, where he lacked energy, appeared to stumble over his words and had a raspy voice. The event sparked widespread panic among Democrats who were worried about his ability to defeat Trump this fall.

“Joe Biden needs to show a hell of a lot more, and his staff needs to start telling a lot less and getting the president out there,” Swalwell told Hayes. “And he needs to do that yesterday, not tomorrow.”

The White House has also been criticized for offering various explanations for Biden’s performance, from jet lag to a cold. Biden has taken responsibility for the debate, calling it a “bad episode.”

Many Democrats have also called on Biden to spend more time speaking with the public unscripted. The president sat down for his first interview since the debate with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Friday night.

While Biden did not stumble in the interview, it does not appear to have done enough to stop the calls from elected Democrats for him to withdraw from the race. Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) released a statement Saturday morning calling on the president to step aside.

Five sitting House members — Craig and Quigley, as well as Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) — have now pressed Biden to drop from the race and give someone else a chance to lead the ticket and take on Trump in November.

Two more Democratic House members, Reps. Jared Golden (Maine) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) have also said that they believe Trump will win this fall.

Biden has dismissed these calls even as they continue to grow stronger within the party, saying he is the party’s nominee and will not step down.

“If the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race. The Lord Almighty’s not comin’ down,” Biden said during the ABC interview.

Stephanopoulos pressed the incumbent on what he would do if senior congressional leaders approached him and asked him to step down, and Biden said that would not happen.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is gathering signatures from fellow senators for a letter to deliver to Biden asking him to withdraw from the race.

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