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Biden's Campaign Faces Critical Moment 07/19 06:08

   Critical days ahead, President Joe Biden is facing the stark reality that 
many Democrats at the highest levels want him to consider how stepping aside 
from the 2024 election to make way for a new nominee atop the ticket could be 
the party's best chance of preventing widespread losses in November.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Critical days ahead, President Joe Biden is facing the 
stark reality that many Democrats at the highest levels want him to consider 
how stepping aside from the 2024 election to make way for a new nominee atop 
the ticket could be the party's best chance of preventing widespread losses in 
November.

   Isolated as he battles a COVID infection at his beach house in Delaware, 
Biden's already small circle of confidants before his debate fumbling has 
downsized further. The president, who has insisted he can beat Republican 
Donald Trump, is with family and relying on a few longtime aides as he weighs 
whether to bow to the mounting pressure to drop out.

   The Biden For President campaign is calling an all-staff meeting Friday. At 
the same time, the Democratic National Committee 's rulemaking arm expects to 
meet Friday, pressing ahead with plans for a virtual roll call before Aug. 7 to 
nominate the presidential pick, ahead of the party's convention later in the 
month in Chicago.

   "President Biden deserves the respect to have important family conversations 
with members of the caucus and colleagues in the House and Senate and 
Democratic leadership and not be battling leaks and press statements," Sen. 
Chris Coons of Delaware, Biden's closest friend in Congress and his campaign 
co-chair, told The Associated Press.

   It's a pivotal few days for the president and his party: Trump has wrapped 
up an enthusiastic Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. And Democrats, 
racing time, are considering the extraordinary possibility of Biden stepping 
aside for a new presidential nominee before their own convention.

   Amid the turmoil, a majority of Democrats think Vice President Kamala Harris 
would make a good president herself.

   A new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 
about 6 in 10 Democrats believe Harris would do a good job in the top slot. 
About 2 in 10 Democrats don't believe she would, and another 2 in 10 say they 
don't know enough to say.

   Democrats at the highest levels have been making a critical push for Biden 
to rethink his election bid, with former President Barack Obama expressing 
concerns to allies and Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi privately telling Biden the 
party could lose the ability to seize control of the House if he doesn't step 
away from the 2024 race.

   Late Thursday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester became the second Democrat in the 
chamber -- and now among nearly two dozen in Congress -- calling on him to bow 
out, saying, "Biden should not seek reelection to another term."

   Campaign officials said Biden was even more committed to staying in the race 
even as the calls for him to go mounted. And senior West Wing aides have had no 
internal discussions or conversations with the president about Biden dropping 
out.

   But there is also time to reconsider. Biden has been told the campaign is 
having trouble raising money, and key Democrats see an opportunity as he is 
away from the campaign for a few days to encourage his exit. Among his Cabinet, 
some are resigned to the likelihood of him losing in November.

   The reporting in this story is based in part on information from almost a 
dozen people who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive private 
deliberations. The Washington Post first reported on Obama's involvement.

   Biden, 81, tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling in Las Vegas earlier 
this week and is experiencing "mild symptoms" including "general malaise" from 
the infection, the White House said.

   The president himself, in a radio interview taped just before he tested 
positive, dismissed the idea it was too late for him to recover politically, 
telling Univision's Luis Sandoval that many people don't focus on the November 
election until September.

   "All the talk about who's leading and where and how, is kind of, you know -- 
everything so far between Trump and me has been basically even," he said in an 
excerpt of the interview released Thursday.

   But in Congress, Democratic lawmakers have begun having private 
conversations about lining up behind Harris as an alternative. One lawmaker 
said Biden's own advisers are unable to reach a unanimous recommendation about 
what he should do. More in Congress are considering joining the others who have 
called for Biden to drop out. Some prefer an open process for choosing a new 
presidential nominee.

   "It's clear the issue won't go away," said Vermont Sen. Peter Welch, the 
other Senate Democrat who has publicly said Biden should exit the race. Welch 
said the current state of party angst -- with lawmakers panicking and donors 
revolting -- was "not sustainable."

   However, influential Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck 
Schumer and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries are sending signals of 
strong concern.

   To be sure, many want Biden to stay in the race. But among Democrats 
nationwide, nearly two-thirds say Biden should step aside and let his party 
nominate a different candidate, according to an AP-NORC Center for Public 
Affairs Research poll. That sharply undercuts Biden's post-debate claim that 
"average Democrats" are still with him.

 
 
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