Key Washington Democrat says Biden should exit the 2024 election race

Jul 9, 2024, 6:05 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm

Image: From left, Washington Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Smith is seen in 2018, Washington's U.S. Dem...

From left, Washington Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Smith is seen in 2018, Washington's U.S. Democratic Sen. Patty Murray speaks in 2023 and Washington Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal is seen in an undated photo. (Photos: Getty Images and The Associated Press; photo compilation: MyNorthwest)

(Photos: Getty Images and The Associated Press; photo compilation: MyNorthwest)

Washington Democrats appear to be split or uncommitted to whether President Joe Biden should stay in or drop out of the 2024 presidential election campaign.

US Sen. Patty Murray: ‘Biden hasn’t proven he is up for the job’

However, a key Democratic U.S. Senator from Washington State is now suggesting that President Biden leave the presidential race. As Senate Pro Tempore, Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray is third in line to the presidency. Now, she’s saying President Biden must consider dropping out of the 2024 race.

Murray said a more forceful and energetic candidate is needed to defeat former President Trump and the threat, she said, a Trump presidency poses to our democracy.

Murray’s statement on Monday was the first time the Democrat has suggested Biden step aside. She said she reached the conclusion after talking with constituents.

“More than a week since the debate, and after talking with my constituents, Monday that President Joe Biden still hasn’t proven he is up for the job to defeat Republican rival Donald Trump, suggesting the incumbent Democrat must consider dropping out of the 2024 race to ‘preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future,'” Murray said via the statement.

She added that the party’s nominee must be able to articulate what the party has accomplished and everything it plans to accomplish to make Americans’ lives better.

“I have a deep appreciation and strong respect for Joe, who has led a historic first term as president, Murray said. “Still, we need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate on the campaign trail in the very near future in order for him to convince voters he is up to the job.”

Murray concluded her statement by noting that Biden strongly contemplated his next moves.

“At this critical time for our country, President Biden must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future,” Murray’s statement reads.

There have been serious questions about the president’s health and stamina following his debate with former President Trump.

Adam Smith calls for Bident to drop out

Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Smith is not uncommitted, however. He called for Biden to drop out of the race Monday.

Smith, who represents the state’s Ninth Congressional District, made the announcement in a statement sent to KIRO Newsradio and reiterated his stance on an appearance Monday afternoon on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

“President Biden should end his candidacy for a second term as President and release his delegates to the Democratic National Convention to enable the party to nominate a new candidate for President,” Smith’s statement begins. “This must happen as soon as possible to give the new ticket the maximum amount of time to make its case to the American people.”

Smith made it clear in his statement he thinks the party’s candidate needs to surely and undeniably make the case about being the best person to be president and Biden isn’t up to the task anymore.

More from Washington, D.C.: Biden tells Hill Democrats he ‘declines’ to step aside, says it’s time for party drama ‘to end’

“Any candidate for the highest office in our nation has a strong burden to bear. That candidate must be able to clearly, articulately, and strongly make his or her case to the American people,” Smith said. “It is clear that President Biden is no longer able to meet this burden.

Smith went on to say that Biden’s performance in the CNN Presidential Debate late last month was “alarming to watch” and added “the American people have made it clear they no longer see him as a credible candidate …”

The congressman then bluntly stated Biden has not “seriously addressed these concerns,” calling the response “unacceptable.”

“The stakes are simply too high,” Smith’s statement reads. “Donald Trump and MAGA extremism pose an existential threat to our nation, and we need to be in the strongest possible position to win in this election.”

‘Disaster’: KIRO, KTTH hosts roast Biden for CNN debate performance

Smith concluded his statement by calling Biden’s decision to stay in the race to continue his campaign would be “a mistake.”

“He should step aside now so that we can find a new candidate that will put us in the strongest possible position to beat Donald Trump in November,” Smith said.

Voters in Smith’s district react

KIRO Newsradio was in Renton talking to voters in Smith’s own district about whether they agree with his reported call for Biden to drop out of the race.

KIRO Newsradio found likely voters in Renton – which is included in the 9th Congressional District that Smith represents — are largely split between whether they believe Biden should remain in the race or drop out.

One man, who provided only his first name as Bill, said he voted for Biden in the primary but now considers himself an independent and wants the incumbent president to abandon his run for reelection.

“We’re voting pretty soon, so it’d be pretty difficult to change in the middle of the stream,” he added. “Personally, I think he should step down.”

“Personally, I like (House Minority Leader Hakeem) Jeffries, but that’s not what he’s up for right now.”

Jeffries reportedly organized the Zoom call among Democratic lawmakers on Sunday where several of them expressed hesitation about Biden leading the party into November. Smith was one of those top Democrats, according to multiple national news networks. Smith’s office did not reply to a KIRO Newsradio request for comment or interview on Monday morning.

For some of Smith’s voters, age simply doesn’t matter.

Mose Sheridan – an 86-year-old self-proclaimed lifelong Democratic voter in Renton – said he thinks too much focus is being given to Biden’s 81 years and not enough attention to differences in policies between Biden and Donald Trump.

“Well yeah, he is kind of old,” Sheridan said. “But better an old Biden than a younger Trump.”

Monday morning, Biden again attempted to quash dissent from within his own party with a letter to Congress, stating his intention plainly to stay in the race.

Smith joins a list of about a dozen prominent Democratic Party members reportedly calling for Biden to leave the race. But if stays in, as he’s repeatedly promised to do, how will voters – including those concerned with his age – choose at the ballot box?

“I’d still vote for Biden, even if he stays in,” said Bill from Renton.

When asked why he’d keep his vote blue, despite calling for Biden to withdraw from the race, Bill told KIRO Newsradio “because I really don’t like Trump.”

Conservative voters in Smith’s district expressed a similar resolve in their choices, with multiple telling KIRO Newsradio it doesn’t matter who the Democratic Party puts up for election in November – they’re sticking with Trump.

And the numbers show for as much dissent as Biden’s poor debate performance sparked within his party’s ranks, his voters remain largely unmoved. Aggregate polling data from FiveThirtyEight shows although a majority of voters are concerned about Biden’s age impacting his ability to carry out the job, his support only waned about 2 to 3 percent since before the June 27 debate.

US Rep. Jayapal takes on GOP nominee Trump

Washington Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who represents the state’s Seventh Congressional District that includes most of Seattle, released a statement Monday morning that KIRO Newsradio received largely avoiding whether Biden should stay in the race and focusing on if Republican nominee former President Donald Trump should stay in it.

“Any reporter or pundit who is asking about or talking about the aftermath of President Biden’s debate performance and his health should also be spending at least the same amount of time and energy talking to Republicans about why they are still supporting a convicted felon who incited an insurrection and wants to be Dictator on Day 1,” Jayapal’s statement begins.

Jayapal believes Republicans should be asking Trump to drop out of the race.

Republicans should be calling for Donald Trump to step down as a candidate for president,” Jayapal said. The press should be covering for the American people the dozens of lies he told at the debate and the horrific statements he continues to make about immigrants and women.”

Jayapal did acknowledge she is having “conversations” with people all over the country at this time.

“It is true that Democrats are having many conversations among our members and our constituents as we consider the best path forward to protect our democracy,” Jayapal’s statement reads. As CPC (Congressional Progressive Caucus) chair, I am listening carefully to the thoughts of our members from all over the country — in swing and safe states and districts — as we work to ensure we defeat Donald Trump and win the House and Senate.”

Later Monday, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan of Punchbowl News reported that Jayapal “remained cagey” after meeting with reporters.

“I think he’s our nominee right now. And I don’t believe that public conversations that … damage our nominee or are necessarily good. I think that private conversations are important,” Jayapal said, according to the report.

Washington Biden position: Democrats remain committed to ticket

The state of Washington’s Democratic Chair Shasti Conrad said in a statement Monday she visited the White House and saw both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris speak to the administration’s success. It’s why the state’s party has not waivered in its support for the party’s existing ticket.

“This election our democracy and freedom are on the line. Washingtonians and folks across the country know this,” Conrad said as part of her statement. “It’s why over the last week we’ve seen grassroots organizers, labor, and community leaders unite to show their support for a Biden-Harris ticket – because we know this is how we defeat fascism and continue to build a movement for working families, small businesses, and safer communities.”

This story was originally published on July 8 at 2 p.m. and has been updated and republished since then.

Contributing: Heather Bosch, KIRO Newsradio

Sam Campbell is a reporter, editor and anchor at KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of Sam’s stories here. Follow Sam on X, or email him here.

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

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