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Welch becomes first Senate Democrat to publicly urge Biden to withdraw from race

Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Wednesday became the first Senate Democrat to publicly call on President Biden to withdraw from the presidential race.

Welch wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that while he has “great respect” for the president, who he calls one of the best of his lifetime, it is time for Biden to step aside for the good of the country. 

“I, like folks across the country, am worried about November’s election. The stakes could not be higher. We cannot unsee President Biden’s disastrous debate performance. We cannot ignore or dismiss the valid questions raised since that night,” Welch said. “I understand why President Biden wants to run. He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again.” 

“But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not,” he continued. “For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race.”

The Vermont Democrat becomes the 10th Democratic member of Congress to call for Biden to step aside from the ticket, joining nine members of the House.

Welch, a freshman senator who previously served eight terms in the House, wrote that Democrats face potential political devastation in November if there is not a change atop the ticket. He added that only Biden can change the “national conversation,” which is centered on the president’s “age and capacity.” 

“I deliver this assessment with sadness. Vermont loves Joe Biden,” he said, adding that Biden won his largest vote percentage in Vermont four years ago. “But regular Vermonters are worried that he can’t win this time, and they’re terrified of another Trump presidency. These are real concerns of regular voters who I’ve heard from recently — like a mom who counts on the child tax credit and seniors who rely on Medicare.”

He also heaped praise on potential replacements, calling Vice President Harris a “capable, proven leader” and lauding the “deep bench” in the party’s reserves that includes “energizing” governors and senators who hail from swing states. 

“We have asked President Biden to do so much for so many for so long. It has required unmatched selflessness and courage,” Welch wrote. “We need him to put us first, as he has done before. I urge him to do it now.” 

The move comes after days of internal hemming and hawing from Senate Democrats, headlined by Tuesday’s weekly luncheon where Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) all said that they believe Biden will lose in November.

Bennet went public with his thoughts hours later, saying in a television interview that Biden being on the ticket could lead to a “landslide.” However, he did not go as far as Welch.

It also comes as more cracks emerged in Democratic support across Congress in beyond, just a day after tides briefly appeared to shift in Biden’s favor.

Biden’s top advisers are slated to address Senate Democrats over lunch at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Thursday, a move that comes hours before the president’s planned solo press conference as part of the NATO summit in downtown Washington.

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