First Democrat in Congress calls on Biden to withdraw from 2024 election after debate

WASHINGTON — Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, became the first sitting Democrat in Congress to call for President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race, citing his poor debate performance and the fact that Biden “has trailed Donald Trump” all year in surveys.

“Our overriding consideration must be who has the best hope of saving our democracy from an authoritarian takeover by a criminal and his gang. Too much is at stake to risk a Trump victory—too great a risk to assume that what could not be turned around in a year, what was not turned around in the debate, can be turned around now,” Doggett said in a statement Tuesday. President Biden saved our democracy by delivering us from Trump in 2020. He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024.”

While numerous Democrats have privately expressed concerns or suggested anonymously that Biden leave the race, Doggett, who is 77, is the first lawmaker to say it openly. He represents a blue district based in Austin, Texas, and has served in Congress since 1995.

“I represent the heart of a congressional district once represented by Lyndon Johnson,” Doggett continued. “Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw. President Biden should do the same.”

“I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so,” he said.

It is unclear whether — or how many — Democratic lawmakers will follow suit as the president and his team insist he will stay in the race and be the party’s 2024 nominee. A Biden campaign official said the president is “staying in” and noted that other Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have provided supportive statements standing behind Biden.

Doggett emphasized that he believes Biden has “achieved much for our country at home and abroad” as president, but added: “While much of his work has been transformational, he pledged to be transitional. He has the opportunity to encourage a new generation of leaders from whom a nominee can be chosen to unite our country through an open, democratic process.”

Lloyd Doggett speaks (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file)Lloyd Doggett speaks (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file)

Lloyd Doggett speaks (Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images file)

“President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump. I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not. Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies,” Doggett said.

He argued that the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling adds fresh urgency to the task of defeating Trump. “This week, with the Supreme Court creating ‘a law-free zone around the President,’ Trump, newly-empowered with immunity, could usher America into a long, dark, authoritarian era unchecked by either the courts or a submissive Republican Congress,” Doggett said.

After Doggett’s call, Democratic candidate Adam Frisch, who is running in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, also called on Biden to exit, saying neither he nor Trump should be running for president.

“We deserve better. President Biden should do what’s best for the country and withdraw from the race,” said Frisch, who lost by a razor-thin margin to Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., in 2022.

Julián Castro — a former Housing and Urban Development secretary in the Obama-Biden administration who clashed with Biden as a 2020 candidate — joined the calls on MSNBC, saying there’s “a stable of Democrats” who would be more effective against Trump, including Vice President Kamala Harris.

“He is not the campaigner he was in 2020,” Castro said. “I believe there are stronger options out there for Democrats.”

Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, one of five House Democrats who represents a Trump district, published an opinion piece in a local paper saying: “While I don’t plan to vote for him, Donald Trump is going to win. And I’m OK with that.”

He said democracy “will be just fine” under Trump.

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