Nancy Pelosi Politely Suggests Biden Change Course

House Votes June 28

Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

During a Wednesday morning appearance on Morning Joe, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered praise for President Joe Biden, who is in the middle of an intraparty debate over the viability of his candidacy. But the California congresswoman notably stopped short of saying she thought Biden should continue his reelection bid, instead offering a decidedly mixed, yet clear, message that he should reconsider.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he’s going to run. We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short,” Pelosi said.

She continued, “He is beloved. He is respected. And people want him to make that decision, not me.”

Biden made it clear earlier this week that he has, in fact, made his decision, sending a letter to congressional Democrats stating that he has no plans of dropping out and that he’s the strongest possible candidate to run against Donald Trump. The president followed up his statement by calling in to Morning Joe — which Pelosi knows he watches religiously — daring his critics to challenge him at the Democratic National Convention in August.

Pelosi also suggested that members of the party wait to address the question of Biden’s fitness while the eyes of the world are on the president as he hosts the NATO Summit in Washington, D.C., adding that he’s doing so “magnificently.” “Let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week,” she said.

When pressed on whether she wants Biden to run, Pelosi once again deferred to the president. “I want him to do whatever he decides to do and that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with,” she said.

Pelosi’s comments mark a strong contrast from other leaders in the Democratic Party, who have offered either full-throated or medium-throated support of Biden. On Monday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries told reporters that he is still backing the president. “I made clear publicly the day after the debate that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed,” he said. Since Biden’s disastrous debate performance last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeated one consistent refrain when asked whether he should step aside: “I’m with Joe.”

Jim Clyburn, the South Carolina congressman and former House majority whip whose 2020 endorsement played a key role in Biden’s eventual win, has also stood by the president among the calls by some party members for him to drop out. “We’re riding with Biden,” he said following the House Democrats caucus meeting Tuesday morning.

However, Pelosi’s remarks demonstrate that there’s still some uneasiness within the Democratic Party despite the many members who have voiced their support of Biden in recent days. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Senator Michael Bennet confirmed that he said in a closed-door caucus meeting that Biden will likely lose in November.

“Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House,” he said. “So for me, this isn’t a question about polling. It’s not a question about politics. It’s a moral question about the future of our country, and I think it’s critically important for us to come to grips with what we face if together we put this country on a path to electing Donald Trump again.”

When Pelosi arrived back on the Hill later Wednesday morning, she told CBS News that she was not telling Biden to reconsider his decision with her televised remarks as reported by some outlets. “I think the president is great. And there are some misrepresentations of what I have said,” she said.

Her office later issued a statement in an attempt to clarify her words.

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