US elections: Biden tries easing Democrats’ worries amid increased calls to step down

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An embattled US President Joe Biden faced escalating pressure on Sunday from fellow Democrats worried about his candidacy, which he aimed to ease with a pair of campaign stops in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Biden, 81, has faced growing calls to end his re-election campaign after a halting performance in a June 27 debate with Republican Donald Trump, 78, raised questions about his ability to do the job for another four years.

He has vowed to stay in the race, dismissing calls for him to drop out as “nonsense” in a fundraising email on Saturday.

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Democrats also suggested that Vice President Kamala Harris, seen as the likeliest candidate to replace Biden in the Nov. 5 election were he to bow out, could perform well.

The coming week is crucial, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

He encouraged the president to try hold a town hall or news conference to convince voters he is “the old Joe Biden.”

“I do think the president needs to do more,” Murphy said. “I do think the clock is ticking.”

A much-anticipated Friday Biden interview with ABC News did little to ease the concerns of lawmakers and donors.

Democratic US Representative Adam Schiff said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Biden needs to move swiftly to put concerns to rest.

“I think she [Harris] very well could win overwhelmingly, but before we get into a decision about who else it should be, the president needs to make a decision about whether it’s him,” Schiff said.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has scheduled a meeting Sunday with senior House Democrats to discuss the president’s candidacy.

In Friday’s interview, Biden said only the “Lord Almighty” could persuade him to drop out, dismissing the prospect that Democratic leaders could join forces to try to talk him into standing down.

Church visit

On Sunday, Biden will address a Black church service in northwest Philadelphia before traveling to the state capital, Harrisburg, for an event with union members and local Democrats, his campaign said.

Pennsylvania is one of the half dozen or so states that can swing Democratic or Republican, which are expected to determine the outcome of what has been a tight race.

The trip is part of a July voter outreach blitz by the Democratic Party that includes a $50 million media campaign aimed at events such as the Olympic Games and travel by Biden, his wife, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband to every battleground state.

The campaign said it aims to have volunteers and staff knock on more than 3 million voters’ doors in July and August.

It will be Biden’s 10th visit to Pennsylvania during the 2024 election cycle.

Pressure from Congress is expected to ramp up in the coming days as lawmakers return to Washington from a holiday recess, and donors mull their willingness to keep funding his campaign.

The political crisis is unfolding as Biden prepares to host dozens of world leaders at a high-stakes NATO summit in Washington and hold a rare solo news conference.

Five US lawmakers have called for Biden to end his re-election bid, including Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota, the first Democratic member of the House of Representatives from a battleground district, with others said poised to join in.

“Given what I saw and heard from the President during last week’s debate in Atlanta, coupled with the lack of a forceful response from the President himself following that debate, I do not believe that the President can effectively campaign and win against Donald Trump,” Craig, a top 2024 target of House Republican efforts, posted on X.

Two letters are circulating among House Democrats calling for Biden to step aside, House Democratic sources have said.

US Senator Mark Warner of Virginia invited fellow senators to a meeting on Monday to discuss Biden’s campaign. Biden told reporters he had spoken with 20 congressional Democrats, who urged him to stay on. Biden said knew of no senators ready to join Warner.

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