Biden Faces Make or Break Democratic Meeting–and He Won’t Be There

On Capitol Hill, there are plenty of private discussions over how to approach what has effectively turned into a game of chicken between Biden and his own party.Published Jul. 08, 2024 9:47PM EDT Alex Wroblewski/The Washington Post via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden already had his version of the Alamo on Friday. Tuesday could end up being his judgment

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On Capitol Hill, there are plenty of private discussions over how to approach what has effectively turned into a game of chicken between Biden and his own party.

Jake Lahut

President Joe Biden speaks at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin.

Alex Wroblewski/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Joe Biden already had his version of the Alamo on Friday. Tuesday could end up being his judgment day.

Congressional Democrats weighing Biden’s political future are set to meet Tuesday morning behind closed doors, with no cell phones allowed.

Although there are many more members falling into the “all-in for Joe” column than those publicly calling for the president to step aside, according to a CNN running tally, there are still plenty of private discussions over how to approach what has effectively turned into a game of chicken between Biden and his own party.

“Oh, the conversations are happening,” a staffer for a House Democrat in a competitive district told The Daily Beast, referring to members who have yet to come out publicly. “They’re happening.”

There’s a high likelihood members and their accompanying staffers will have to “put their phones in a box,” the aide added, though they suspect details of the meeting will quickly leak anyway.

Yet among Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, the dam has held for Biden so far.

“As I’ve said before, I’m for Joe,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said as he arrived at the Capitol on Monday, according to Semafor.

His crucial counterpart for any serious discussions of Biden stepping aside, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), also provided a backstop for the beleaguered president.

“Yes, I made clear the day after the debate, publicly, that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket,” Jeffries told reporters at the Capitol on Monday afternoon. “My position has not changed.”

While Biden consolidated some significant support on Monday, there are still frustrated plotters lurking in the wings.

“Democrats—especially those in the frontline—are getting savaged every day and the White House and the campaign are just sitting there while they burn,” a second Democratic source who works with members in swing districts told The Daily Beast.

While Biden may feel confident daring them to come out in public to call for him to fall on the sword, he’s running on borrowed time, the source said.

“The amount of negative press that’s being generated is enormous,” the swing district consultant said, “and it’s frontline House members who are taking a beating while the White House and campaign send ineffective letters and tweet nasty things about the press.”

Bidenworld continued to do just that on Monday, culminating in an off-the-rails White House press briefing where Karine Jean-Pierre hectored reporters for asking basic questions about a Parkinson’s doctor visiting the White House eight times in eight months, including for a meeting with Biden’s physician.

None of it seemed to assuage the concerns of Democrats on the hill who were at least willing to partially acknowledge the problem.

“The most important thing for Democrats or for the country is to beat Donald Trump,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said upon arriving back in DC. “And we just arrived. And so it’s important that we have in person family conversations about the best way to do that. And I’m not going to comment further.”

When asked whether Biden’s insistence on staying in the race might negatively affect his legacy, Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD) demurred.

“I’m not at the legacy point yet,” Ivey said in a CNN interview.

Democrats are still in a position to win the White House, he said.

Notably, however, he said they’re in an “even better” one to win the House majority.

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