US Senator Peter Welch on Wednesday became the first Democratic senator to call on US President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race after his poor performance in his first debate with Donald Trump last month.

“We cannot unsee President Biden’s disastrous debate performance. We cannot ignore or dismiss the valid questions raised since that night,” Welch wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Noting why he understands President Biden’s desire to run, he said: “He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again.”

“But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not. For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race,” he added.

Describing Vice President Kamala Harris as “a capable, proven leader,” Welch said the Democratic party has “other electable, young, energizing Democratic governors and senators in swing states.”

“We have asked President Biden to do so much for so many for so long. It has required unmatched selflessness and courage. We need him to put us first, as he has done before. I urge him to do it now,” he said.

If re-elected, Biden will be 86 years old when he leaves office.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that President Biden is “absolutely not” considering stepping down.

Biden told congressional Democrats in a letter on Monday that he will continue his re-election bid despite growing calls to step aside.

“I want you to know that despite all the speculation in the press and elsewhere, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump,” he wrote in a letter to Democrats in Congress.

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