July 16, 2024

More than a handful of House Democratic ranking members told House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a Sunday call that President Joe Biden needs to step aside from the 2024 campaign, according to sources familiar with the call.

Jeffries held the call to take the temperature of ranking members after Biden’s dismal debate performance last month. The call, held before politicians return to Washington this week, was filled with deep concern about potential damage to the Democratic ticket and how it imperils the party’s chances to win back the House majority.

Jeffries did not share with his colleagues where he stands on the question of whether Biden should continue running for reelection, a source who was on the call told CNN.

READ MORE: Biden says debate was a bad night. Here’s how doctors would evaluate it

The number of politicians who explicitly said Biden should not be the Democratic nominee was greater than the number who spoke up for him to stay, according to one of the sources. Among those who opposed Biden as the nominee were Reps. Mark Takano, Adam Smith, Jim Himes, Joe Morelle, Jerry Nadler and Susan Wild, according to three sources.

Five politicians have publicly called for Biden to withdraw from the presidential race: Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Seth Moulton, Raúl Grijalva, Angie Craig and Mike Quigley.

Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Bobby Scott spoke in support of Biden, according to one of the sources.

One of the concerns expressed during the nearly two-hour call was that Democrats will lose their chance at the House majority if Biden is the candidate, one of the sources said, adding that it was generally acknowledged the nominee should be Vice President Kamala Harris.

“It was pretty brutal,” a senior Democratic aide told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation among House leaders.

READ MORE: Biden privately acknowledges next days are critical to save reelection bid

No decisions about demands for a White House meeting or sending a letter to Biden are expected to be made before the full Democratic caucus meets Tuesday, aides said, but Jeffries has made clear he will allow members to speak their minds and make their own judgments.

One senior House Democrat said they have been on calls and group chats with dozens of their colleagues where the consensus is that Biden needs to step aside. The member said the caucus is trying to “find the best way to move forward” while still giving the president the respect they believe he deserves for his storied career.

It is the view of the senior House Democrat and another member that Tuesday — the day of the planned caucus meeting — will be the most consequential day for the president this week.

READ MORE: Biden’s family encourages him to stay in the race during Camp David gathering

One of the members told CNN they anticipate that is the day when the dam will break.

Many Democrats concerned about Biden’s viability as a candidate following his poor debate performance are waiting for Jeffries to take a public position.

So far, the leader has been in purposeful listening mode — as one person told CNN last week, Jeffries has “assiduously” avoided sharing his own judgment on the matter as he continues to survey his own caucus.

Biden, who is visiting battleground Pennsylvania, answered with a resounding “yes” when press asked whether the Democratic Party was still behind him.

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