The Guardian

‘We are not going to win with this president’: George Clooney calls on Joe Biden to quit race

- Robert Tait Washington

George Clooney, the Hollywood actor and one of the Democratic party’s biggest fundraiser­s, yesterday called on Joe Biden to step aside to save democracy from Donald Trump.

In an opinion article in the New York Times, Clooney expressed deep affection for the US president but said personal interactio­n with him at a recent fundraisin­g event in Los Angeles – the Democratic party’s most successful ever, raising more than $30m (£23m) – suggested Biden’s stumbling performanc­e in last month’s debate in Atlanta was not an aberration.

“It’s devastatin­g to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the Joe “big F-ing deal” Biden of 2010,” the longtime party member wrote.

“He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate. Was he tired? Yes. A cold? Maybe. But our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw.”

Clooney added: “We are not going to win with this president.”

Stressing that his call was made reluctantl­y, Clooney praised the political battles Biden had won during his career but said his age represente­d an insurmount­able adversary.

“But the one battle he cannot win is the fight against time. None of us can,” he wrote.

Clooney’s plea came as Biden continued to insist on staying in the race while senior Democrats agonise about how to change his mind. Republican­s in Congress gleefully sought to tighten the screw by summoning three White House aides to testify about Biden’s mental fitness.

The summons came as a subpoena from James Comer, the GOP chair of the House oversight committee, who demanded testimony from Anthony Bernal, the top aide to the first lady, Jill Biden, deputy chief of staff Annie Tomasini, and senior adviser Ashley Williams, Axios reported.

Clooney called on leading party figures to come off the fence and make the case to Biden, writing: “Most of our members of Congress are opting to wait and see if the dam breaks.

“But the dam has broken. We can put our heads in the sand and pray for a miracle in November, or we can speak the truth.”

He concluded: “Joe Biden is a hero; he saved democracy in 2020. We need him to do it again in 2024.”

In further signs of Democratic support for Biden wavering yesterday, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado predicted Trump would defeat Biden in a “landslide”, while the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, said it was up to Biden “to decide if he’s going to run”, in remarks that will intensify the pressure on the president to reconsider his determinat­ion to stay in the race.

In an impassione­d interview with CNN, Bennet said he believed Biden could no longer win November’s election and said his campaign needed to assess whether he steps aside in “moral” terms based on the importance of saving the country from the “American tragedy” of a second Trump presidency.

“This race is on a trajectory that is very worrisome if you care about the future of this country,” Bennet told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. “Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House. It’s not a question about politics, it’s a moral question about the future of our country.”

Pelosi told MSNBC’s Morning Joe it was “up to the president to decide if he is going to run” and said of House Democrats: “We’re all encouragin­g him to make that decision because time is running short.”

The latest comments followed a meeting of the Democratic Senate caucus in which Bennet and two other senators, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana, reportedly said they believed Biden was no longer able to win after the debate failure, in which he appeared repeatedly confused, lost his train of thought and failed to counter lies from Trump.

While no senators have explicitly called on Biden to step aside, seven House members have appealed to him to abandon his re-election bid.

The president has refused to bow out, telling his doubters to challenge him at next month’s Democratic national convention in Chicago.

He has secured crucial support from the Congressio­nal Black Caucus, though yesterday one of its members, Marc Veasey of Texas, became the first to break ranks, telling CNN that Democrats running in tight races should “distance themselves” from Biden in an effort to “do whatever it is they need to do” to win.

‘Joe Biden is a hero. He saved democracy in 2020. We need him to do it again in 2024’

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: REX/ SHUTTERSTO­CK ?? Joe Biden speaks at a meeting of union leaders in Washington yesterday. The president is facing growing calls to drop out of the race after his poor performanc­e in a debate with Donald Trump
PHOTOGRAPH: REX/ SHUTTERSTO­CK Joe Biden speaks at a meeting of union leaders in Washington yesterday. The president is facing growing calls to drop out of the race after his poor performanc­e in a debate with Donald Trump
 ?? ?? George Clooney
George Clooney

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