Angie Craig becomes first battleground Dem to call for Biden to withdraw

Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig on Saturday became the first battleground House Democrat to call for President Joe Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race in the wake of a disastrous debate performance and scramble to assuage members of his own party.

“Given what I saw and heard from the President during last week’s debate in Atlanta, coupled with the lack of a forceful response from the President himself following that debate, I do not believe that the President can effectively campaign and win against Donald Trump,” Craig said in a statement Saturday morning.

“That’s why I respectfully call on President Biden to step aside as the Democratic nominee for a second term as President and allow for a new generation of leaders to step forward,” she added, arguing that the party had “only a small window left” to find the best candidate.

She is the fifth House Democrat to call for Biden to step aside after his debate with Donald Trump, which sparked an avalanche of questions and concerns about Biden’s age and mental acuity. And she is the first to do so after the president’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, which the campaign had hoped would help shift the tide.

Craig’s call for Biden to bow out is particularly striking because she is running for reelection in a swing seat that voted for Trump in 2016 and Biden in 2020. The other four House Democrats have been from safely blue congressional districts: Reps. Mike Quigley, (D-Ill.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)

Craig’s statement comes as there’s growing panic that Biden’s debate performance, and the ensuing fallout, could spill over into congressional fights. Democrats are likely to lose their Senate majority come November, and Biden has fallen even further behind in the polls since the debate, making winning control of the House a potential key bulwark against GOP power.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Mike Marinella hit Craig minutes later in a statement for a “transparent election-year ploy to try to cling to her seat.”

The growing list of House Democrats calling on Biden to step aside comes even as the president has been adamant that he will stay in the race. His efforts to quell concerns included a rally in Wisconsin on Friday, followed by his first televised sit down interview since the debate.

“If the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race,” Biden said during the interview. “The Lord Almighty’s not coming down.”

But House Democrats told POLITICO after the ABC News interview that even though the president was more energetic and forceful, it wasn’t enough to tame the panic. Members were also struck by the president’s denial about his standing in the race and his dismissal of his party’s widespread concerns.

Both the House and Senate return from recess to Washington, D.C., on Monday evening. And Democrats from both chambers are expected to speak privately over the next few days — conversations that will likely be a forum to air their grievances about the fallout over Biden’s debate performance and try to hammer out a path forward.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) will speak with Democratic ranking committee members on Sunday — where a discussion about Biden is likely to come up.

Meanwhile on the Senate side, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has approached Senate Democrats to organize a discussion on Biden’s path forward, according to a source familiar. And Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will separately hold a routine leadership meeting on Monday night, which will let him meet face-to-face with several members of the Senate Democratic caucus.

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