US House Democrat calls for Biden to drop out of race


US Representative Lloyd Doggett has become the first congressional Democrat to call for President Joe Biden to withdraw from the presidential race, following a widely panned debate performance.

Doggett, of Texas, applauded Biden’s “transformational” first term in office but said it was time to let another member of the party challenge Republican Donald Trump in the November 5 election.

“Recognising that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so,” Doggett said in a statement.

Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Biden’s campaign has hoped to reassure US voters, a majority of whom say they believe Biden is too old to work in government, that the president was the best choice against his predecessor Trump.

But Biden’s stumbling performance during the debate had the opposite effect. 

His team has since scrambled to reassure key donors that Biden’s appearance was a fluke.

Although Doggett is the first congressional Democrat to explicitly call for Biden to withdraw, others have suggested such a move may be worth considering.

Lloyd Doggett
Democrat congressman Lloyd Doggett wants Joe Biden to step down as the party’s nominee. (AP PHOTO)

“He has to be honest with himself,” Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, a moderate from Illinois, told CNN on Tuesday. 

“It’s his decision. I just want him to appreciate at this time just how much it impacts, not just his race, but all the other races coming in November.”

In addition to the White House, Democrats are defending several vulnerable seats in the Senate, where they hold a 51-49 majority, and are trying to recapture a majority in the House.

Doggett pointed to that dynamic.

“President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump,” Doggett said. 

“I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not.”

A White House official said Biden will hold a meeting with Democratic governors on Wednesday.

The meeting, which will be held at the White House but may be largely virtual with governors attending remotely, will give the president a chance to reassure leaders in his party that he is of sound mind and body despite the debate.

Another source said Biden would also meet with leaders from Capitol Hill this week as he seeks to shore up support among party stalwarts and tamp down talk that he should step aside.

The meetings are part of a broad effort to stabilise the president’s re-election bid after his stumbling display on the Atlanta debate stage.

His team held difficult phone calls on Sunday and Monday with important campaign funders who questioned whether the 81-year-old Democrat should stay in the presidential race. 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi emphasised Biden’s multiple legislative accomplishments during an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday but said it was a legitimate question to ask whether his debate performance was a one-night thing or a broader health problem. 

She said Trump should be given the same scrutiny.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say, ‘is this an episode or is this a condition?’ And so when people ask that question, it’s legitimate, of both candidates,” Pelosi said.

US broadcaster ABC News said on Tuesday that Biden will sit down for a televised interview with the network.

It said excerpts of the interview will air on Friday.