Despite denials, Biden being pushed towards ‘historic exit’

Published July 5, 2024
US President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a Fourth of July celebration for military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2024. — AFP
US President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks during a Fourth of July celebration for military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2024. — AFP

WASHINGTON: As President Joe Biden resists pressure to abandon his re-election campaign after a poor showing in his debate with Donald Trump, he will face close scrutiny in public events in coming days that could determine his political future.

With calls growing from some of his own Democrats to step aside, and support coalescing around the idea of Vice President Kamala Harris taking his place in the November election, Biden’s allies believe he can demonstrate stamina and mental acuity to voters and donors.

Biden will host families at the annual July 4 Independence Day festivities at the White House on Thursday, and be interviewed on ABC News on Friday.

Dozens of House Democrats are watching closely, prepared to ask Biden to step aside if he falters in the ABC interview.

President to face scrutiny in coming days, Democrats ‘leave door open’ for Kamala Harris

In an interview on ‘The Earl Ingram Show’ radio programme, Biden said he would fight on. “I screwed up, I made a mistake. That’s 90 minutes on stage. Look what I’ve done for the last three and a half years,” he said.

The president alo met a group of Democratic governors on Wednesday at the White House to make his case. Some told reporters afterward they were sticking by his side.

Biden is 81 and would be 86 when his second term ends. He is being asked by some former supporters to step aside to preserve his legacy and lessen the chances of a second Trump presidency. With just four months to go before the election, a decision needs to be made soon, they say.

Democrats, including top allies, have left the door open to having Harris at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Anwar Iqbal adds from Washington: Even The New York Times reported this week that Biden might step down if he did not perform well in his upcoming public engagements.

Although the White House has clarified that Biden is not quitting, NYT has not retracted its report, which has since been highlighted by other US media outlets.

An aggregate of national opinion polls conducted this week shows that 45 per cent of Demo­cr­atic voters want Biden not to run.

New polls by NYT and the Wall Street Journal show Trump leading Biden. The New York Times and Siena College polls show Trump building a 6-percentage-point lead — 49pc to 43pc.

A CNN poll shows that three-quarters of US voters believe the Democrats would have a better shot at holding the presidency in 2024 with someone other than Biden at the top of the ticket.

Second president in history

If Joe Biden were to step aside, he would become only the second elected president in US history to be denied re-nomination by his party.

The first was Franklin Pierce in 1856, who lost Democratic support due to his endorsement of a pro-slavery act, leading to the nomination of James Buchanan instead.

Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1968, also chose not to seek a second term, becoming the only president in living memory to do so.

L.B.J. (as he was popularly known) was elected vice president in 1960 on the ticket with John F. Kennedy, and succeeded him in the presidency following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2024

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