George Clooney calls on Joe Biden to withdraw from presidential race

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Clooney said Democrats won’t win in November with Mr. Biden

  • Author, Brandon Drenon and Bernd Debusmann, at the NATO summit
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

George Clooney has issued a scathing call for Joe Biden to withdraw from the US presidential race, hours after senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi dodged questions about his resolve.

The Hollywood actor and prominent Democratic Party fundraiser said the president has won many battles in his career, “but the fight against time is one he cannot win.”

His comments came after Ms Pelosi, the former speaker of the House, joined growing disquiet within the party, saying the 81-year-old Biden had “little time” to decide whether to stay in the race after his stumbling debate performance against Donald Trump.

The president has repeatedly stated that he is determined to remain the Democratic nominee and defeat Trump, 78, in November.

Clooney wrote in the New York Times that it was “devastating to say,” but the Joe Biden he met at a fundraiser three weeks ago was not the Biden of 2010. “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020,” the actor added.

“He was the same man we all saw at the debate,” Clooney said.

The fundraising event, co-hosted by Clooney in Los Angeles and also attended by Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand, raised a record $30 million (£23 million) for Biden’s campaign in one evening.

The Biden camp has hit back at the Hollywood star, with an anonymous source telling US media: “The president stayed for more than 3 hours [at the fundraiser]while Clooney quickly took a photo and left.”

The president’s campaign manager also stressed that when he attended the fundraiser, he had just arrived in Los Angeles from Italy, where he had attended the G7 summit.

Clooney said in his op-ed: “Our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw.”

“This is about age. Nothing more,” he continued. “We’re not going to win in November with this president.”

Clooney added that his concerns were consistent with those of “every” member of Congress he had spoken to.

When asked to respond, Biden’s campaign pointed to a letter the president sent to Democrats in Congress saying he was “committed” to pursuing his candidacy and defeating Trump.

Yet public discontent continues to grow within Biden’s party as he comes under fire over his hosting of the NATO summit in Washington.

Mrs. Pelosi, a highly influential voice among Democrats on Capitol Hill, appeared on Wednesday to dismiss Biden’s assertion that he was determined to press ahead.

When asked if he should stay in the race, she told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I want him to do whatever he decides to do.

“It is up to the president to decide whether he will run. We all encourage him to make that decision, because time is running out.”

Mrs. Pelosi acknowledged the demands made on the president at the NATO summit, telling MSNBC: “I’ve said to everybody, let’s wait a little bit.

“Whatever you think, tell someone privately, but you don’t have to put it on the table until we see how it goes this week. But I’m very proud of the president.”

About a dozen elected Democrats suggested he end his campaign after his June 27 debate with Trump.

On Tuesday night, Colorado’s Michael Bennet became the first Democratic senator to publicly voice his opinion.

While he did not call for Biden’s immediate resignation, he did say Trump would win the election, possibly in a “landing victory.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Peter Welch of Vermont became the first Democrat in the Senate to openly call on Biden to withdraw, “for the good of the country,” as he wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters he was “very concerned” about Biden’s ability to win the election.

New York Congressman Pat Ryan told The New York Times earlier in the day: “For the good of our country and for the good of my two young children, I am asking Joe Biden to step aside.”

Biden’s campaign echoed the president’s statements that he would “take this race to the end.”

House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries wants to meet with Biden by Friday to discuss concerns raised by several members of the congressional party.

Overall, however, support among elected Democrats remains strong.

Gavin Newsom, the California governor who Clooney mentioned as a possible replacement, said he was still “fully behind” Biden.

The Congressional Black Caucus, a group of about 60 politicians, and progressive members of the House of Representatives such as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, have openly expressed their support for Biden.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “I’m with Joe.” However, Axios reports that Schumer has privately told donors he’s open to dumping Biden.

Two anonymous leading Democrats told CBS News, the BBC’s US affiliate, that there had been a “convergence” of opinion over the past 24 hours among elected Democrats, donors and groups supporting the president’s party.

According to one of the sources, all interests have reached “near consensus” on what Biden should do.

Questions about the Democratic campaign also arose during the NATO summit in Washington DC.

Video caption, Nancy Pelosi says it’s the president’s decision to proceed
Video caption, Biden ignores reporters’ questions during meeting with Starmer

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was confident the US would remain a committed member of the alliance regardless of who sits in the White House next year, Biden or NATO sceptic Trump.

At a press conference, the BBC asked Stoltenberg whether all 32 members of the alliance shared his optimism, despite concerns about Biden’s candidacy.

“I’m not saying we can always ignore concerns,” Mr Stoltenberg said. “But the more dangerous the world is, the clearer it is that we need NATO.”

He added: “It is in the interest of all of us to stand together. That includes the United States.”

On Thursday, Biden will give a rare solo press conference and on Monday he will tape an interview with NBC News that will air later in the evening.

In the swing state of Pennsylvania, Democratic voters had mixed feelings about Biden on Wednesday, speaking to the BBC.

Karren Gillchrist of Harrisburg said she still supports Biden because “he knows exactly what he’s talking about.”

But in Elizabethtown, Melissa Nash, working on her laptop in a cafe, said: “I’m divided because I’m not a fan of Trump, but at the same time you need someone who is strong to lead the country.”

Additional reporting from Rebecca Hartmann in Pennsylvania

Leave a Comment