Some House Democrats have rallied round Biden. It’s a different game in the Senate

Ilhan Omar tells The Independent that Biden ‘is going to be our nominee and we have his back,’ even as her other colleagues say the president should allow someone else to take up the mantle for 2024

Eric Garcia
Washington DC
Tuesday 09 July 2024 17:55
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Biden challenges critics to 'run against me' at DNC

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President Joe Biden seemed to stem his bleeding support among some Democrats in the House of Representatives, particularly progressives. Meanwhile, the Senate continues to have lingering questions, following the president’s disastrous debate performance last month.

On Monday, the president sent a letter to congressional Democrats saying he is “firmly committed” to staying in the presidential race against Donald Trump.

During votes on Monday evening, many House Democrats — specifically members of the Congressional Black Caucus — reiterated their support for Biden.

Caucus chairman Steven Horsford, who also represents the swing state of Nevada, said Biden is and would be the nominee in a statement.

“President Biden is the nominee and has been selected by millions of voters across this country, including voters in Nevada,” he said.

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey told The Independent that her voters said they felt bad for him after his debate performance, where Biden had a hoarse voice and tripped over his own sentences, “[b]ut my constituents have been saying to me as they encounter me in church and out in the Fourth of July and stuff, ‘Tell President Biden that we are with him, make sure you use your voice to communicate that.’”

It was not just members of the CBC, a longtime base of support for Biden, that defended Biden. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York also defended the president to reporters.

“Now, what I think the president does need to do is continue to lean in and move further towards the working class and be more assertive in providing an affirmative vision for this country and expand in his policies and vision for a second term,” she said.

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, another member of the progressive Squad, told The Independent that she had heard positive things from her voters about Biden: “That he’s going to be our nominee and we have his back.”

Biden’s wellspring of praise from some came after numerous other House Democrats — such as Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota and Raúl Grijalva of Arizona — said Biden should step aside as the Democratic nominee.

Clearly, opinions are divided. But Biden has seemed to stave off an internal revolt for now.

Representative Greg Landsman, who represents a swing district in Ohio, told The Independent that voters’ concerns are all over the place.

“I think it's almost entirely — not entirely, but it is, in large part, a worry about Trump,” he said. “And I understand that sounds like I'm trying to change subject, but that's what I'm hearing is that people are so terrified about what will happen if Trump were to win, especially after the Supreme Court decision... Trump is going to think that he now has no guardrails.”

The reception seems more uniformly grim in the Senate, a place Biden called his office for 36 years and where he frequently wrangled votes as Barack Obama’s vice president.

“Vermont loves Joe Biden,” Senator Peter Welch of Vermont told The Independent, adding that Vermont gave Biden the biggest margin of victory of any state in the last election. But, he added, “[w]e've got to beat Trump and those age issues that were present before the debate [have] intensified since... It's all about the president's performance.”

Similarly, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, who challenged Biden for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, said Coloradoans had questions after the debate.

“Many people have asked me questions about it all over the state,” he told The Independent. “They want to know if this wasn't a reflection of a serious condition, but just was a bad night, as the White House says, or as the president has said.”

“I think if the American people reach the conclusion that it was a bad night, we're going to be fine,” he added. “If they reach the conclusion that it's something else, that's going to be difficult.”

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