Rapid Fire

The morale of the caucus is at historic lows’: Congressional Democrats debate Biden’s fate. Kamala set to step in.

House Democrats gathered Tuesday morning for a consequential meeting, kicking off a day of closed-door discussions where the focus centered on whether President Joe Biden is still the right candidate to face Donald Trump in November.

Biden has made progress in recent days by securing support from the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and left-wing “Squad.” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has stood by him as well. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, declared “he is our nominee right now, until he’s not our nominee” and suggested attacking him was counterproductive.

“Joe Biden is, will be and should be our nominee,” Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz told reporters after the meeting, echoing similar comments from other members.

The president’s continued support from key leaders raised hopes among his supporters that Democrats might give up on discussions about alternative nominees as soon as today. But his public appearances and interviews since his disastrous debate have also done little to restore confidence among members, some of whom described the caucus as depressed and divided.

“The morale of the caucus is at historic lows” one member said. Told that others had compared the mood to a funeral, they replied: “That is an insult to funerals.”

Heading into the meeting, there were signs that Biden’s absolute insistence that he will not drop out — leaving Democrats with the ugly prospect of weakening their nominee if they kept up their criticisms — may have saved him for now. New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, a longtime and influential member who had privately said Biden should step aside, told reporters “he is going to be our nominee,” rendering further concerns “besides the point.”

Hopes for a buoyant “rally around the flag” moment out of Tuesday’s caucus discussions did not materialize, though.

“I’m concerned about him dragging the ticket down,” Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley said as he exited the meeting. “I don’t think he should stay in the race.”

He also suggested that others shared his view, but wouldn’t say it out loud — and that he was sworn to secrecy as to who. They were “already off the Christmas card list,” he said.

Lawmakers’ cellphones were collected as they entered the Democratic National Committee headquarters, a sign of how sensitive the conversation was expected to be. Democratic senators — many of whom are similarly uneasy with Biden’s debate performance — are expected to have a similar discussion on whether he should step aside as the party’s nominee at their Tuesday lunch.

The last week and a half has been tumultuous for Biden, whose lackluster debate performance alarmed top Democrats, voters, and donors alike. Recent polls show Biden’s numbers slipping post-debate, though not by much.

The polls, particularly those showing Vice President Kamala Harris running more successfully against Trump than Biden does, set off a wave of speculation over whether Biden might be replaced on the ticket. Over the past several days, potentially damning stories have surfaced about how Biden’s inner circle sought to shield him from the public and hide how much he has appeared to age in office.

But in a defiant letter to Congress on Monday, the president warned his party to stop theorizing about a new nominee. “The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it’s time for it to end,” he said. In a phone interview on Morning Joe around the same time, he denounced the “elites” trying to push him out of the race, daring them to challenge him at the convention

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button