Indian Prime Minister Modi makes first visit to ally Russia since the start of its war on Ukraine

As Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania, some Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives say he should step aside

HARRISBURG, Pa.: President Joe Biden called on his supporters to remain united during a series of weekly stops in critical Pennsylvania on Sunday, even as some leading congressional Democrats privately suggested it was time to drop his re-election bid amid intensifying questions about whether is he fit for a second term.
Addressing a rousing church service in front of sun-drenched stained glass windows at Philadelphia’s Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, 81-year-old Biden joked, “I know I look 40,” but “I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
“I’ve honestly never been more optimistic about the future of America if we stick together,” he said.
There and during a subsequent rally with union members in Harrisburg, Biden gave brief speeches that touched on familiar themes. But he also left plenty of room for key backers to talk about standing by him. In that way, the swing in Pennsylvania appears to have been more about showing support for the president from key political circles than proving that she has another four years to go.
His party, however, remains deeply divided.
As Congress prepares to resume this week, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries called the top committee’s lawmakers together Sunday afternoon to gauge their views. Several Democratic caucus leaders, including Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut and Rep. Mark Tackan of California, said privately that Biden should step down, according to two people familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.
But other top Democrats, including members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, argued just as strongly that Biden remains the party’s choice. The conversation was wide-ranging, with board leaders sharing different views on the situation, but no consensus on what should be done, the people said.
Biden personally called lawmakers over the weekend. He also joined a call with campaign surrogates and reiterated that he has no plans to leave the race. Instead, the president pledged to campaign harder going forward and step up his political travel, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
One Democrat the president spoke with, Sen. Alex Padilla of California, said he and others were pushing the Biden campaign to “let Joe be Joe, get him out there.”
“I absolutely believe we can turn it around,” Padilla told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a person familiar with Sen. Mark Warner’s thinking said there would be no meeting on Monday to discuss Biden’s future, as previously discussed, and that those discussions would take place at the regular caucus lunch on Tuesday with all democratic senators. The person said a private meeting was no longer possible after it was made public that the Virginia Democrat was reaching out to senators about Biden and that various conversations between senators were continuing.
Five other, different Democratic lawmakers have already publicly called on Biden to drop out of the re-election campaign ahead of November. The in-person meeting this coming week means more chances for lawmakers to discuss concerns about Biden’s ability to survive the remaining four months of the campaign — not to mention four more years in the White House — and the realistic prospect of defeating presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Biden’s campaign team also called and texted lawmakers to try to prevent more potential defections, while increasingly asking high-profile Biden supporters to speak on his behalf.
Calls to give up, however, have sprung up from different directions.
Alan Clendenin, a Tampa city councilman and member of the Democratic National Committee, called on Biden on Sunday to “step aside and allow Vice President Kamala Harris to continue her agenda as our Democratic nominee.” Director Rob Reiner, who has helped organize Hollywood’s glitzy Biden fundraisers in the past, posted on X: “It’s time for Joe Biden to step down.
The Democratic convention is fast approaching and Biden’s interview on ABC on Friday did not convince some who remain skeptical.
Democratic fundraiser Barry Goodman, a Michigan attorney, said he supported Biden, but if he were to withdraw, he would endorse Harris. That’s significant since Goodman also served as finance co-chairman for both state campaigns of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has also been mentioned as a top alternative.
“We don’t have much time,” Goodman said. “I don’t think the president will come out.” But if she does, I think it would be Kamala.”
There was no such suggestion at Mount Airy, where Pastor Lewis Felton compared the president to Joseph and the biblical story of his “coat of many colors.” In it, Joseph is sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers, only to eventually gain a high position in Pharaoh’s kingdom and be begged by his brothers for help without at first recognizing him.
“Never count Joseph out,” pleaded Felton. Then, referring to Democrats who have called on Biden to step down, he added: “It’s happening, Mr. President. People are jealous of you. Jealous of your affection, jealous of your affection. Jealous of God’s hand on your life.”
Felton also led a prayer where he said, “Our president is getting discouraged. But today, through your holy spirit, renew his mind, renew his spirit, renew his body.”
After the church service, Biden visited the campaign office in Philadelphia, where Sen. John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat who won a hard-fought 2022 race while recovering from a stroke, offered a strong endorsement.
“There’s only one guy who’s ever beaten Trump,” Fetterman said. “And he’ll do it twice and put him down for good.”
Later as he exited Air Force One in Harrisburg, the president was asked if the Democratic Party was behind him and he answered emphatically, “Yes.”
Joining him at the union rally, Representative Madeleine Dean, also a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said that “democracy is on the line. There is one man who understands this, and that is Joe Biden.
Isabel Afonso, who saw Biden speak in Harrisburg, said she was concerned when she saw the president’s performance in the debate, but she doesn’t think he should drop out of the race and still be able to win. “I know he is old, but I know that if something happens to him, a reasonable person will replace him,” said Afonso, 63.
At the same event, 73-year-old James Johnson said he knows what it’s like to forget things as he gets older, but called Biden a “fighter.” He said replacing the president at the top of the Democratic ticket would only cause confusion.
“I’m talking about lifelong Democrats and people who have been in the Democratic Party for a long time,” Johnson said. “They might just decide to jump ship because of that.”
Still, others aren’t entirely convinced.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut told CNN that Biden “has to answer the questions that voters have,” adding, “If he does that this week, I think he’ll be in a very good position.”
Biden has refused to submit to independent cognitive testing, arguing that the daily rigors of the presidency are proof enough of his mental acuity. Still, California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff told NBC on Sunday that he would be “happy if both the president and Donald Trump took a cognitive test.”
As some Democrats have, Schiff also picked up on Biden’s suggestion during the ABC interview that losing to Trump would be acceptable “as long as I do my best.”
“This is not just about whether he gave his best in college,” Schiff said, “but rather whether he made the right decision to run or pass the torch.”

Leave a Comment