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The First Democratic Member Just Called for Joe Biden to Withdraw

“Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett said in a statement.

Lloyd Doggett
Rep. Lloyd Doggett said President Joe Biden should withdraw from the race. Stephen Spillman/AP

The first Democratic member of Congress publicly called on President Joe Biden to withdraw from the race — a potential dam-breaking moment after his poor debate performance last week.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the longest-serving and oldest Democrat in the Texas congressional delegation, said in a statement on Tuesday that Biden needs to step aside.

“President Biden has continued to run substantially behind Democratic senators in key states and in most polls has trailed Donald Trump,” Doggett wrote in a statement. “I had hoped that the debate would provide some momentum to change that. It did not. Instead of reassuring voters, the President failed to effectively defend his many accomplishments and expose Trump’s many lies.”

While many Democrats have privately expressed concern about the president’s debate performance, Doggett is the first to go this far. And he isn’t likely to be making the appeal for his own electoral reasons: Doggett is a leading progressive in his late 70s who represents a safe district.

Neither the White House nor the Biden campaign immediately responded to requests for comment.

Soon after Doggett’s statement, Democratic candidate Adam Frisch of Colorado called on Biden to step aside.

“Neither candidate is fit for office, but only Joe Biden has the power and decency to move us forward by stepping aside and passing the baton to the next generation of leadership,” he wrote on X.

Most Democrats in Congress haven’t gone quite as far — but many have expressed serious concerns after Biden’s debate performance.

“It’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition,” former Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC earlier Tuesday when asked about Biden’s health.

But some Democrats quickly pushed back on Doggett. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, who represents a Houston seat once held by Republicans, stood behind Biden after Doggett called for him to withdraw.

“The 2024 election presents a choice between two very different visions for our future: President Biden’s vision that moves America forward for all of the American people, or President Trump’s vision of that reverses our progress, denies our freedom, and divides our country,” she said in an emailed response to Doggett’s statement. “It’s clear which candidate is best for America and Americans.”

In his statement, Doggett called for Biden to step down like President Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1968.

A staffer for another Texas Democrat texted NOTUS in response: “How did that work out for Democrats?”

Ryan Hernández is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.