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Dems Make Fresh Push for Biden Stepdown07/18 06:10

   Democrats worried about President Joe Biden's ability to win this November 
are making a renewed push for him to reconsider his reelection bid, using 
mountains of data, frank conversations and now, his own time off the campaign 
trail after testing positive for COVID, to encourage a reassessment.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats worried about President Joe Biden's ability to 
win this November are making a renewed push for him to reconsider his 
reelection bid, using mountains of data, frank conversations and now, his own 
time off the campaign trail after testing positive for COVID, to encourage a 
reassessment.

   Biden has insisted he is not backing down, adamant that he is the candidate 
who beat Republican Donald Trump before and will do it again this year. But 
publicly and privately, key Democrats are sending signals of concern, and some 
hope he will assess the trajectory of the race and his legacy during this few 
days' pause.

   Over the past week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House 
Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries have spoken privately to the president, 
candidly laying out the views of Democrats on Capitol Hill, including their 
concerns.

   Separately, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, 
Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington, spoke with the president last week armed with 
fresh data. The campaign chief specifically aired the concerns of frontline 
Democrats who are seeking election to the House.

   And on Wednesday, California Rep. Adam Schiff, a close ally of Speaker 
Emerita Nancy Pelosi, became the highest-profile House Democrat to call for 
Biden to drop his reelection bid, saying that while the decision is Biden's 
alone to make, he believes it's time to "pass the torch."

   While the tensions over Biden's ability to carry on a winning campaign 
subsided some, particularly after the Trump assassination attempt and as the 
Republican National Convention was underway in Milwaukee, Democrats know they 
have limited time to resolve the party turmoil after the president's faltering 
debate performance last month.

   To be sure, many Democrats want Biden to stay in the race. And the 
Democratic National Committee is pushing ahead with plans for a virtual vote to 
formally make Biden its nominee in the first week of August, ahead of the 
Democratic National Convention that begins Aug. 19 in Chicago.

   Late Wednesday, ABC News reported new details about Biden's private meeting 
over the weekend with Schumer at the president's beach home in Delaware. It 
said Schumer told the president it would be "better for the Democratic Party, 
and better for the country if he were to bow out."

   A Schumer spokesperson called the report "idle speculation. Leader Schumer 
conveyed the views of his caucus directly to President Biden on Saturday."

   White House spokesman Andrew Bates said Biden told Schumer, as well as 
Jeffries, that "he is the nominee of the party, he plans to win, and looks 
forward to working with both of them to pass his 100 days agenda to help 
working families."

   But among Democrats nationwide, nearly two-thirds say Biden should step 
aside and let his party nominate a different candidate, according to a new 
AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. That sharply undercuts Biden's 
post-debate claim that "average Democrats" are still with him even if some "big 
names" are turning on him.

   Biden tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling Wednesday in Las Vegas 
and is experiencing "mild symptoms" including "general malaise" from the 
infection, the White House said.

   The president, who has spent the past several days campaigning, had already 
been scheduled to return to his Delaware beach home even before the diagnosis.

   Schiff's announcement brings to nearly 20 the number of Democratic members 
of Congress calling on Biden to withdraw from the presidential race in the wake 
of his dismal debate performance against Trump last month.

   Schiff said that by bowing out, Biden would "secure his legacy of leadership 
by allowing us to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming election."

   Schiff is a prominent Democrat on his own, and his statement will also be 
watched because of his proximity to Pelosi.

   It was Pelosi who revived questions about Biden post-debate, when she said 
recently that "it's up to the president" to decide what to do -- even though 
Biden had already fully stated he had no intention of stepping aside. The 
former House speaker publicly supports the president, but has fielded calls 
from Democrats since debate night questioning what's next.

   In response to Schiff's comments, the Biden campaign pointed to what it 
called "extensive support" for him and his reelection bid from members of 
Congress in key swing states, as well as from the Congressional Black and 
Hispanic caucuses. The campaign noted that Biden had been joined on his trip to 
Nevada this week by nearly a dozen Congressional Black Caucus members.

   Still, Schiff's announcement came after Schumer and Jeffries encouraged the 
party to delay for a week plans to hold the virtual vote to renominate Biden, 
which could have taken place as soon as Sunday, according to two people 
familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss 
private conversations.

   The Democratic National Committee' s rulemaking arm is set to meet on Friday 
to discuss how the virtual vote plans will work and to finalize them next week.

   "We will not be implementing a rushed virtual voting process, though we will 
begin our important consideration of how a virtual voting process would work," 
Bishop Leah D. Daughtry and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, co-chairs of the rules 
committee for the Democratic National Convention wrote in a letter Wednesday.

 
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