First House Democrat urges Biden to withdraw from presidential race

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, makes his way to House votes in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. 

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Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas urged President Joe Biden on Tuesday to “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw” from the 2024 presidential race.

Doggett, 77, is the first sitting Democratic lawmaker to formally call on his own party’s incumbent to drop his reelection bid against former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

The call significantly escalates pressure on Biden, 81, whose disastrous debate against Trump last week set off waves of panic among his supporters about whether he is capable of winning in November and serving another four years in the White House.

But Biden and his team have so far shut down any suggestion that he will leave the race.

In response to Doggett’s statement, a Biden campaign official told NBC News: “He’s staying in.”

Doggett explicitly tied his decision to Biden’s debate performance.

“President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump,” Doggett said in a press release.

“I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not.”

“Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies,” the lawmaker said.

Our overriding consideration must be who has the best hope of saving our democracy from an authoritarian takeover by a criminal and his gang,” Doggett wrote in the statement. “Too much is at stake to risk a Trump victory—too great a risk to assume that what could not be turned around in a year, what was not turned around in the debate, can be turned around now.

“President Biden saved our democracy by delivering us from Trump in 2020. He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024,” Doggett said.

The Texas Democrat also warned of the threat that a second Trump presidency would pose, pointing to the Supreme Court’s decision this week to grant “presumptive immunity” to former presidents for all their official acts.

“Trump, newly-empowered with immunity, could usher America into a long, dark, authoritarian era unchecked by either the courts or a submissive Republican Congress,” Doggett’s statement said.

He encouraged Biden to follow the lead of former President Lyndon Johnson, who voluntarily declined to seek a second term in office.

“Under very different circumstances, [Johnson] made the painful decision to withdraw. President Biden should do the same,” Doggett said.

“My decision to make these strong reservations public is not done lightly nor does it in any way diminish my respect for all that President Biden has achieved,” he said.

“Recognizing that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

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