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Biden allies Pelosi, Clooney raise fresh doubts about his reelection chance

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                                President Joe Biden attends a campaign event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 7. Biden must decide quickly whether to stay in the 2024 White House race, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime Biden ally, said today while declining to say definitively that she wanted him to run.
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President Joe Biden attends a campaign event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 7. Biden must decide quickly whether to stay in the 2024 White House race, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime Biden ally, said today while declining to say definitively that she wanted him to run.

SAUL LOEB/POOL VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO
REUTERS/NATHAN HOWARD
                                President Joe Biden attends a campaign event in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on July 7. Biden must decide quickly whether to stay in the 2024 White House race, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime Biden ally, said today while declining to say definitively that she wanted him to run.

WASHINGTON >> President Joe Biden faced fresh doubts today about his re-election chances from two heavyweights who may influence other Democratic lawmakers and financial donors: Nancy Pelosi and George Clooney.

Biden must decide quickly whether to stay in the 2024 White House race, former House Speaker Pelosi, a longtime Biden ally, said on MSNBC while declining to say definitively that she wanted him to run.

Hollywood star Clooney, a Democrat who co-hosted a fundraiser for Biden last month, withdrew his support with a damning opinion piece in the New York Times saying that Biden was not the same man he was in 2020.

Pelosi’s remarks, which ignored Biden’s repeated insistence that he is staying in the race, suggested he could face a fresh wave of calls from fellow Democrats to exit the race.

For nearly two weeks the 81-year-old Biden has sought to stem defections by Democratic lawmakers, donors and other allies worried he might lose the Nov. 5 vote to Republican Donald Trump, 78, after Biden’s halting June 27 debate performance.

The president has said again and again that he will be the Democratic candidate and that he believes he can beat Trump. He said he had a bad night at the debate and vowed to stay in the race.

Pelosi said on MSNBC she was encouraging her colleagues on Capitol Hill with concerns about Biden to refrain from airing them while he hosts NATO leaders in Washington this week.

“I’ve said to everyone: let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week,” she said, describing Biden’s strong remarks at the NATO summit on Tuesday as “spectacular.”

She declined to say definitively that she wanted Biden to run. “I want him to do whatever he decides to do,” she said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”

Biden’s campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon and senior advisers Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti will brief Senate Democrats at a lunch on Thursday, Biden’s campaign said.

Asked to comment on Pelosi’s remarks and Clooney’s article, Biden’s campaign pointed to a letter he sent Democrats in Congress that said he was “firmly committed” to staying in the race and beating Trump.

On Tuesday, Pelosi said that she had “always been committed” to Biden, the campaign noted. She told ABC News today she thought Biden could win in November.

Asked at the NATO summit whether he still had Pelosi’s support, Biden responded by raising a triumphant fist.

However, other Democrats’ echoed Pelosi today, suggesting Biden’s efforts to quell dissent within his party had not succeeded. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said he was “deeply concerned” about Biden’s ability to win the race.

In Dallas, Vice President Kamala Harris, the party frontrunner to replace Biden if he were to step aside as the Democratic candidate, spoke to a group of some 19,000 people at an event of the historically Black Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

The election is the most “existential” and consequential of their lifetimes, Harris said to a crowd that chanted, “Four More Years!”

CLOONEY WITHDRAWS SUPPORT

In his opinion piece, Clooney wrote: “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. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate,” Clooney wrote.

“We are not going to win in November with this president. On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate.”

Democrats in Congress remain deeply divided over whether to fall in line behind Biden or to urge him to step aside because of persistent questions about his health and acuity.

But public defections remain a small segment of the 213 Democratic-aligned House members, and the party’s leadership continues to back Biden publicly. No members of the Senate have publicly said Biden should stand aside, though Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said on Tuesday he did not believe Biden could beat Trump.

Biden, eager to change the story, has surrounded himself with communities of his staunchest supporters, including Black Democratic lawmakers and voters. His campaign has framed sticking with Biden as a return of the loyalty he has shown them through his half-century of public life.

Biden was greeted with raucous applause when he met with a group of labor leaders, an important part of his political base, today, joining an AFL-CIO executive council meeting in Washington to discuss “their shared commitment to defeating Donald Trump,” the Biden campaign said.

Biden listed high rents, expensive grocery prices and a lack of housing as issues to be tackled going forward.

There is “a whole range of things we’re going to get done with your help in a second term,” Biden said. “We’re better positioned than any country in the world to own the remainder of the 21st century because of union labor.”

Labor votes were key to Biden’s win over Trump in competitive states, including Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania, in 2020.


Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Jarrett Renshaw.


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