‘This is about age’: Close ally George Clooney says Biden must exit US presidential race

Published July 10, 2024
A combination photo of US actor George Clooney and US President Joe Biden. — AFP
A combination photo of US actor George Clooney and US President Joe Biden. — AFP

Actor George Clooney, one of the Democratic Party’s leading fundraisers, on Wednesday made an impassioned plea for US President Joe Biden to end his faltering reelection campaign.

Clooney — a member of the Hollywood elite that provides key support to the Democrats — joined a growing list of public figures calling for Biden, 81, to step aside after his debate performance against Donald Trump last month.

“I love Joe Biden,” Clooney wrote in the New York Times. “I consider him a friend, and I believe in him … But the one battle he cannot win is the fight against time.”

A self-described “lifelong Democrat”, Clooney last month co-hosted a star-studded fundraiser with Biden in Los Angeles, which also featured former president Barack Obama.

The Biden campaign said that the event brought in a record $28 million.

“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, referencing a famous hot-mic clip from Biden’s vice presidency.

“He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate,” Clooney said — a direct challenge to Biden’s claim that his poor debate showing was a one-off.

“As Democrats, we collectively hold our breath or turn down the volume whenever we see the president, who we respect, walk off Air Force One or walk back to a mic to answer an unscripted question.”

He said that with Biden at the top of the ticket, Democrats “are not going to win in November”, will lose control of the Senate and won’t gain a majority in the House of Representatives.

“This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and congress member and governor that I’ve spoken with in private,” Clooney wrote.

“This is about age. Nothing more. But also nothing that can be reversed.”

Not a ‘cult of personality’

He also joined critics who have likened Democrats’ hesitancy to jettison Biden to the Republican Party’s unshakeable loyalty to Trump.

“We love to talk about how the Republican Party has ceded all power… to a single person who seeks to hold on to the presidency and yet most of our members of Congress are opting to wait and see if the dam breaks,” he said.

But with several lawmakers already openly calling for Biden to step aside and more expressing worries, “the dam has broken,” Clooney said, asking more come forward.

“Top Democrats — Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, Nancy Pelosi — and senators, representatives and other candidates who face losing in November need to ask this president to voluntarily step aside.”

The Oscar-winner brushed aside worries that Biden’s exit would create chaos four months before an election in which the Democrats hope to keep Trump from power, and did not endorse a replacement candidate.

“We Democrats have a very exciting bench. We don’t anoint leaders or fall sway to a cult of personality; we vote for a president,” he said.

The party should hear from contenders such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Maryland Governor Wes Moore and others, Clooney wrote, adding that “then we could go into the Democratic convention next month and figure it out. “

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