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Washington — Nearly two weeks after a disastrous debate, President Biden continues to insist on his race despite circulating doubts and muted expressions of support from members of his party.

He said this week in a Letter to Congressional Democrats he is “determined” to run, but some Democrats in Congress still believe Biden is facing a decision about whether to continue his campaign, suggesting that his future on the ballot remains an open question.

Asked if Biden had her support to lead the candidacy, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sided with Biden on Wednesday morning, saying it was “up to the president” to decide whether to run.

“We all encourage him to make that decision,” she said on MSNBC. “Because time is running out.”

The reaction was not overwhelming support for the president's re-election, although Pelosi did congratulate the president at an event 75th anniversary of NATO on Tuesday night and said he was “absolutely spectacular,” praising his accomplishments and status within the Democratic caucus.

“He's popular, he's respected and people want him to make that decision,” Pelosi said, adding, “I want him to do whatever he decides to do.”

President Joe Biden pauses during a ceremony marking NATO's 75th anniversary on July 9, 2024 in Washington, DC

Andrew Harnik / Getty Images


Pelosi told CBS News later Wednesday morning that “there are some misrepresentations of what I said,” noting that she “never said he should reconsider his decision.” And a spokesperson for Pelosi reiterated in a statement that “Speaker Pelosi fully supports whatever President Biden decides to do.”

Late Wednesday, Senator Peter Welch of Vermont became the first Democrat in the Senate to publicly call on Mr. Biden to withdraw from the race.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Welch wrote that while he admired the president, “we cannot undo President Biden's disastrous performance in the debate. We cannot ignore or dismiss the legitimate questions that have been raised since that night.”

“I understand why President Biden wants to run. He saved us from Donald Trump once and he wants to do it again. But he needs to reevaluate whether he is the best candidate to do it. In my view, he is not,” he continued. “For the good of the country, I urge President Biden to drop out of the race.”

Meanwhile, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado expressed doubts on Tuesday evening that the president will be able to beat the former president Donald Trump in November, in some of the most critical comments made by a Senate Democrat following the debate.

“Donald Trump, in my opinion, is well on his way to winning this election, perhaps overwhelmingly, and taking the Senate and the House with him,” Bennet said on CNN, but did not call on Biden to resign.

The Colorado Democrat pointed to the president's current polling position compared to his position against Trump at this point in 2020, as well as Hillary Clinton's position against Trump in 2016, saying, “There is a very worrying trend in this race.”

Explaining why he was not calling on the president to resign, Bennet said, “We're all here this week to have this discussion, this debate” about the president's prospects. However, he added that the White House had “done nothing” following the debate to present a plan for winning the election.

The comments come afterwards Congressional Democrats met on Tuesday, following a Fourth of July holiday break that had kept them out of Washington since last month's debate. House Democrats met Tuesday morning for what one member called a “hearing session.” And Senate Democrats held a lengthy session Tuesday afternoon, with some touting unity within the caucus, though most remained tight-lipped about the details of the meeting. Neither session seemed to reveal a path forward for the party.

On Wednesday evening, Representative Earl Blumenauer from Oregon became the ninth Democrat in the House of Representatives publicly calling on Mr Biden to drop out of the race, writing in a statement that he hoped Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden “have come to the same conclusion as I and others: President Biden should not be the Democratic presidential nominee.”

In the Senate in particular, Democrats have adopted a wait-and-see approach. No Democrat in the Senate has publicly called on the president to resign. Instead, several Democrats, including Senator Patty Murray of Washington, have said they want to see more from the president. They said he needs to “do more to show that he can run a strong campaign to beat Donald Trump.”

Amid calls for the White House to do more to calm the party, Senate Democrats will hold a special caucus lunch on Thursday, where they will hear from the president's senior advisers Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti, as well as Biden campaign chairwoman Jen O'Malley Dillon, a Senate Democratic leadership aide told CBS News.

Outside the Capitol, another admission about the president's ability to serve another term caused a stir late Tuesday when a video surfaced from TMZ showing ABC news anchor George Stephanopoulos saying of the president, “I don't think he can stay in office for four more years.” Stephanopoulos conducted the first interview of the President last week since his debate about the way forward.

Then actor George Clooney, who hosted a fundraiser for the Biden campaign just last month, wrote an opinion piece published Wednesday calling for Biden to resign.

“It's devastating to have to say this, but the Joe Biden I was at the fundraiser with three weeks ago 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 saw at the debate,” Clooney wrote, adding, “Our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn't see what we just saw.”

Clooney said Democrats have “a very exciting bench” as he sought to hear from possible successors such as Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, Vice President Kamala Harris, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. And he urged that “the horror stories we're being told about what might happen next are simply not true,” arguing that the money “in the coffers of Biden and Harris” could benefit Democrats generally.

The actor called on leading Democrats in Congress to ask the president to voluntarily resign. He claimed the party “will not win with this president in November,” and argued that control of the House and Senate is also under threat. He noted that “every senator, every member of Congress and every governor” he has spoken to privately agrees, “regardless of what he or she says publicly.”

The developments come as leading Democrats continue to back the president, albeit with cautious expressions of support. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries reiterated his support for the president this week, saying, “I made it clear publicly the day after the debate that I support President Joe Biden and the Democrats. My position has not changed.”

After Tuesday's meeting, Jeffries told reporters that members had had an opportunity to speak and that “those discussions will continue throughout the rest of the week.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was repeatedly asked about the president's ability to remain in office for another four years during a weekly press conference following the Senate meeting and said only, “I'm with Joe.”

— Ed O'Keefe, Jaala Brown and Kate Farrell contributed to this report.

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