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Democratic Rep. Doggett says Biden needs to drop out of the race or Trump will win

Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas is the first congressional Democrat to publicly call for President Biden to withdraw from his reelection bid after last week's poor debate performance.<br>
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Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas is the first congressional Democrat to publicly call for President Biden to withdraw from his reelection bid after last week's poor debate performance.

Updated July 03, 2024 at 14:30 PM ET

Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett is the first congressional Democrat to call for President Biden to withdraw from the presidential election. Earlier on Wednesday, Doggett told NPR’s Leila Fadel that Biden “has not convinced the American people” that he’s fit for reelection.

Doggett fears that with Biden as the candidate, Democrats will not be able to stop “Donald Trump from becoming the new authoritarian strongman in our country.”

Despite Biden’s “transformational accomplishments,” Doggett sees a lack of “enthusiasm and excitement” that could cause Democrats to lose not only the presidency, but also the House and Senate in the upcoming elections.

While party leadership so far has voiced continued support for Biden, he says his dissent represents widespread concern.

The following is an edited and condensed version of the conversation with Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

Leila Fadel: So why do you want Biden to withdraw?

Rep. Lloyd Doggett: You have a criminal and his gang who are about to take over our government. We've got to do everything we possibly can to prevent Donald Trump from becoming the new authoritarian strongman in our country. [...] President Biden has some significant accomplishments. I've supported him throughout, but he has not convinced the American people.

Fadel: Are you saying that you don't think he can beat Donald Trump?

Doggett: I think that he is far behind and that we have to put our best possibility forward instead of putting forward the same person that so many people, some called the “double haters,” have rejected. We need to add some enthusiasm and excitement in our campaign. Yesterday, while I was the only person to call for him to step aside, in Washington state, in Maine, I had colleagues who said Donald Trump will win. There's much of that thinking out there that's difficult to overcome. And there is great consternation across the country, I believe, from the people I've heard from, that we could lose not only the presidency, but the House and the Senate.

Fadel: I want to get a sense of how representative your opinion is. I mean, the party leadership is rallying around the President right now? Are you in the minority here? 

Doggett: I think there are people that don't agree with me. From the conversations that I had on the floor of Congress the morning after the election and some of the conversations that I've had since then, I think the concerns I'm voicing are widespread.

I'm a member who's been in Congress for a while, as you noted, not starting my career. I'm not a vulnerable member in this election, so I'm able to step forward and speak out about what I think is so critical for our country in ways that perhaps some other people have not, but I certainly have not gotten any discouragement from within the leadership of the party.

Fadel: What do you say to Democrats who might say, now isn't the time to withdraw support from Biden because it could help Donald Trump, his opponent, contrary to what you're saying?

Doggett: You know, that's the very concern that caused me to not speak out about this earlier. I wish this had been resolved earlier. President Biden said he would be a transitional figure. He's had some transformational accomplishments, but he's worked now for a year, and he's not been able to close the gap, and he made that gap wider after this debate, raising real questions in the minds of so many Americans as to his capability to govern the country now and over the next four years. I just say don't take that chance.

I don't want to do anything to diminish his chances of success. If he is our nominee, he certainly will have my backing. It just will be a heavy lift for me and for many candidates who I believe across the country will begin to distance themselves from the president because they fear being dragged down by the problems that he's having.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Leila Fadel
Leila Fadel is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Majd Al-Waheidi
Majd Al-Waheidi is the digital editor on Morning Edition, where she brings the show's journalism to online audiences. Previously, Al-Waheidi was a reporter for the New York Times in the Gaza Strip, where she reported about a first-of-its-kind Islamic dating site, and documented the human impact of the 2014 Israel-Gaza war in a collaborative visual project nominated for an Emmy Award. She also reported about Wikipedia censorship in Arabic for Rest of World magazine, and investigated the abusive working conditions of TikTok content moderators for Business Insider. Al-Waheidi has worked at the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, and holds a master's degree in Arab Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. A native of Gaza, she speaks Arabic and some French, and is studying Farsi.