Here’s What Democratic Congress Members Have to Say About Biden’s Candidacy

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden went on the offensive this week, telling congressional Democrats he will remain the candidate and urging them to unite around his campaign despite lingering concerns about his age, fitness for office and ability to defeat former President Donald Trump.

In Pennsylvania, the Democratic delegation appears divided after Biden’s disastrous performance in a June debate. Several members have expressed full support for the 81-year-old president or recently appeared with him, but a few either declined to comment on whether he should be nominated or indicated they were still considering the issue.

“I’m still thinking about it,” U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat who represents Chester County, said Monday evening at the Capitol, wearing headphones as she headed to vote.

US Congresswoman Summer Lee, The progressive Pittsburgh resident also declined to comment on Biden’s candidacy.

U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild referred a reporter to a printed statement issued Sunday after reports of a phone call between senior leaders were leaked and named her as someone concerned about Biden’s fitness.

“In a confidential conversation with other members of the House Democratic leadership, I have expressed the same concerns that Americans across the country — and right here in my district — are grappling with about the possibility of electing President Biden at the top of the ticket,” said Wild, a Democrat who is facing a tough re-election in the Lehigh Valley.

“… In the coming days and weeks, I will operate as I always have, continuing these important conversations while putting the interests of my constituents first in every decision I make and every statement I make.”

The window of opportunity for congressional Democrats to unite behind Biden’s call for withdrawal may be narrowing. Biden has downplayed any objections and has repeatedly said he has the senior leadership behind him. While a handful of members have publicly called on him to reject the nomination, it would take many, many more of the 213 to have any impact on what Biden ultimately decides.

The party will hold its national convention in Chicago next month — Biden will formally accept the nomination unless something changes. And many states will begin early voting as early as September.

House Democrats held a caucus Tuesday morning at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee offices in Washington. Senate Democrats also met on Capitol Hill later that day.

House Democrats marched into the DCCC Tuesday morning, keeping their phones and Apple Watches locked to ensure their private discussions during the meeting. Three men in suits held signs by the front door that read, “Is Joe Biden Fit for Office?”

Most members either declined to speak to reporters waiting in the stifling Washington heat or made brief comments, saying it was a private place where people could express their views or a “family conversation.” Wild and Houlahan dismissed reporters’ questions because left the meeting.

At least one of the six members who called on Biden to withdraw, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, said after the meeting that that was still his assessment. “I’m worried it will drag down the ticket,” Quigley said.

Here’s what nine Pennsylvania House Democrats and two senators said when asked whether they thought Biden should remain the party’s nominee:

Fetterman has been a staunch supporter of the president, campaigning with him on Sunday. At a union event in Harrisburg, the senator called Biden “the only person who ever kicked Trump’s ass in an election” and attacked media coverage of efforts to remove Biden from the race.

“I hope the media hears this — they’re reminding you of that. Trump humiliated. Broken,” Fetterman said.

Fetterman, who suffered a stroke during the 2022 campaign, had his own televised debate appearance that drew intense scrutiny before his eventual victory over Republican Mehmet Oz.

Casey, a Scranton native and close Biden ally, acknowledged the president’s penniless performance in the debate but has so far supported him. “People know what’s at stake in this race,” Casey said last week in Scranton.

Casey joined Biden on the campaign trail in the state on Sunday. The Democratic incumbent will be on Biden’s ballot in November, trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Dave McCormick.

Boyle appeared with Biden during his visit to Philadelphia on Sunday, posting photos on social media he hugging the president on the airport tarmac, and on Monday evening he sent a message reaffirming his support.

“I wanted Biden to run in 2016 and I still wish he had,” Boyle said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I urged him to run in 2020 and I’ve been a strong supporter of his from day one. And I remained a strong supporter of his even when the odds seemed slim. So I’m certainly not abandoning Joe Biden now.”

Evans is yet to return to the slopes after suffering a minor stroke that left him… He is still recovering in Philadelphia. But he has posted numerous positive reinforcements for Biden on social media, including just a day after the debate.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of key parts of the Biden-Harris Administration agenda, and I am happy to remind everyone how much Joe Biden has accomplished,” Evans wrote on X after Biden’s ABC interview.

When asked if Evans supported Biden’s decision to remain the nominee, the spokesperson said Evans’ response was, “Sure.”

Dean appeared with Biden this weekend at a church service in Northwest Philadelphia and at campaign stops in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

“This man knows exactly what he’s doing,” Dean said in her speech in Harrisburg. “And we can’t risk going back.”

IN PBS News In an interview on Monday, she said she “unapologetically supports the president, his achievements, his decency and his integrity.”

She described the president during the campaign as “full of energy. He worked from a notebook. I know there’s been some discussion about the prompter…. We were also together in front of people who were organizers on the campaign side and the union side, and the president spoke without any notes, and he was great. He was just fine.”

Dean said voters need to see Biden more often. “The American people need to listen, they need to see Joe Biden more, they need to see him face to face with the American people and make decisions.”

U.S. Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (Delaware County; parts of Philadelphia, Chester, and Montgomery counties)

Scanlon said in a statement: “I support President Biden as our Democratic nominee for president and celebrate the accomplishments of the Biden-Harris Administration for Pennsylvania families. The voters in my district rose to the occasion to secure a landslide victory over Donald Trump in 2020, and we look forward to defeating him again in 2024.”

U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan (Chester and Berks Counties)

Houlahan said she wasn’t ready to talk about Biden Monday night and said she was still thinking about some issues. She has not made any statements about the president’s debate or his campaign since the debate.

U.S. Representative Susan Wild (Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties; parts of Monroe County)

Wild did not elaborate beyond a statement Sunday in which she acknowledged that she had expressed concerns about Biden’s candidacy during conversations with voters.

Wild faces a tight re-election battle in her Lehigh Valley district. with First Lady Jill Biden at Allentown Community College on July 2but she declined to answer questions about the presidential election. “I’m not talking politics today,” she said at the event, which took place just five days after the debate.

She joined President Biden during a visit to the Lehigh Valley in January and praised “the important work the president has done to drive down costs and invest in infrastructure, and of course the impeachment of Donald Trump on democracy and freedom.”

U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright (Lackawanna, Wayne and Pike counties; parts of Luzerne and Monroe counties)

Cartwright, who represents a swing district in northeastern Pennsylvania, had been quiet on Biden’s debate performance until this week. Cartwright issued a statement Tuesday evening distancing himself from the president but stopping compact of calling on him to step aside.

“The president had a tough night, but I’m running in a different race in my community. Northeastern Pennsylvania knows me,” Cartwright said. “They know I offer good-paying jobs, I lower prescription drug prices and I stand up for our rights.”

U.S. Congresswoman Summer Lee (Allegheny and part of Westmoreland County)

Lee declined to discuss Biden when approached on Capitol Hill. She said in a radio interview last Wednesday that Biden needs to get in front of voters and show he can beat Trump.

Speech on Sirius XM’s “Mornings with Zerlina”” hosted by Zerlina Maxwell, a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer, said: “If President Biden and his team decide that he’s staying in this race, the onus is on them to show us — show us, not tell us — show us that he’s up for the task.”

She later said that if Biden decided to concede, Vice President Kamala Harris should be the Democratic nominee.

“There will be no time for primaries,” she said. “The vice president is the obvious choice because he sits there as someone who has been in the White House, as someone who already has name recognition, who is already on the trail.”

She added: “[T]The optics of pushing away a black woman is that she is not good.”

U.S. Congressman Chris Deluzio (Beaver County and part of Allegheny)

Deluzio appeared with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on July 2 during a visit to Pittsburgh International Airport to tout infrastructure dollars. Both expressed strong support for a second Biden term during the visit.

“As hard as it was, I think I also heard Donald Trump lie probably 30 times,” Deluzio said. “I heard him say he would not commit to honoring the election results. I still think he is a grave threat to our freedom, to this democracy.”

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