Pelosi urges Biden to make decision on race, despite his insistence he will stay

In a Wednesday morning interview, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) repeatedly urged President Biden to make a decision about whether to stay in the presidential race, despite the president’s insistence that he should remain at the top of the Democratic ticket.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run. We’re all encouraging him to make that decision, because time is running short,” Pelosi said Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “ … He is beloved, he is respected, and people want him to make that decision.”

Biden so far has been adamant that he should continue running for reelection, amid increasingly public concerns within the party about his candidacy after his halting performance against Donald Trump in the first debate of the contest last month. Biden has insisted that he is the best person to beat Trump, who he warned would usher in a radical right-wing agenda if allowed to return to the White House. On Wednesday, Biden has a full slate of events as host of this week’s NATO summit in Washington, where dozens of world leaders are discussing, among other issues, how to “Trump-proof” the alliance should the former president be reelected.

Since the debate, Biden has held campaign rallies, sat for an interview with ABC News, sent a lengthy letter to congressional lawmakers and agreed to hold a news conference Thursday, all in the hope of quelling doubts about his ability to serve a second term. Biden and his team also have met with key party leaders who have voiced strong support for his candidacy — including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), as well as members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

But Pelosi’s remarks in her TV appearance Wednesday suggested that Biden had yet to make a final decision about whether to continue running, and dissent within the party has continued to trickle out. Pressed on whether she wanted him to stay in the race, Pelosi said: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s — that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with.”

Pelosi also implied that she had told Democratic lawmakers to refrain from voicing any opinions about Biden’s candidacy until after the NATO summit.

“Over 30 heads of state are here. … It means [Biden is] orchestrating the discussion and setting the agenda, and he’s doing so magnificently,” Pelosi said. “And I’ve said to everyone — let’s just hold off whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week. But I’m very proud of the president.”

Later Wednesday, Pelosi told a CBS News reporter that she thought Biden was “great” and that she never said Biden should “reconsider” his decision.

In an email Wednesday, Pelosi spokesman Ian Krager said: “Speaker Pelosi fully supports whatever President Biden decides to do. We must turn our attention to why this race is so important: Donald Trump would be a disaster for our country and our democracy.”

Democratic lawmakers remain divided on Biden — and have certainly not remained quiet about their opinions on the president. So far, about a dozen Democratic lawmakers have called on Biden to drop out of the 2024 race. Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.), a moderate who represents a swing district, told the New York Times on Wednesday that he would be “doing a grave disservice” if he said Biden was the best Democratic candidate.

“For the good of our country, for my two young kids, I’m asking Joe Biden to step aside in the upcoming election and deliver on the promise to be a bridge to a new generation of leaders,” Ryan told the Times.

Late Tuesday, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) told CNN that Trump was on track to win the election “by a landslide and take with him the Senate and the House” if Biden remained in the race.

“For me, this isn’t a question about polling; it’s not a question about politics. It’s a moral question about the future of our country,” Bennet said. “It’s critically important for us to come to grips with what we face, if together, we put this country on the path of electing Donald Trump again.”

Asked to respond to Bennet’s comments, Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz said: “No one is more committed to defeating Donald Trump and defending our democracy than Joe Biden, and few know better than Joe Biden the importance of showing up and campaigning to earn the support of voters. This was always going to be a close race.”

Actor and filmmaker George Clooney, a longtime Biden supporter who has helped raise funds for the campaign, including in a major event last month in Los Angeles, published a guest op-ed in the New York Times on Wednesday calling for a new Democratic nominee.

“It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010,” Clooney wrote. “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

CNN political commentator Kate Bedingfield, who served as communications director for Biden’s 2020 campaign and in the White House, suggested Wednesday that voters want to see data supporting the idea that Biden can win in November.

“I know firsthand better than almost anyone how smart the Biden team is about data and about ignoring the noise. They are right that the game here is to convince voters, not pundits,” Bedingfield wrote on X. “But when the battle over the public data is so overwhelmingly negative, it’s a good moment to put forward your theory of the case. If they have data that supports the path to victory that they see, they should put it out there now and help people who badly want to beat Trump rally around it. People want to see the path.”

Liz Goodwin and Maeve Reston contributed to this report.

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