Connect with us


Opinion: Step aside, Joe. It's time



Opinion: Step aside, Joe. It's time

If Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee this fall against Donald Trump, my vote for him would be the easiest I’ve ever cast.

And yet, I’ve now joined those who believe Biden should end his bid for reelection. I wish he’d take a well-deserved bow, and help unite his party at its convention next month around a younger, more vibrant nominee who stands a better chance not only of beating Trump but also of serving out a four-year term.

Opinion Columnist

Jackie Calmes

Jackie Calmes brings a critical eye to the national political scene. She has decades of experience covering the White House and Congress.


For the record:

6:19 p.m. July 10, 2024An earlier version of this piece misattributed a joke to Jimmy Kimmel. The correct comedian is Jimmy Fallon.

I’d like to be able to say, as some others do, that it’s become absolutely clear to me that the enfeebled president must pass the torch. I can’t. I remain torn. Biden has earned reelection by his formidable record and his restoration of normalcy and decency post-Trump. Also, the risks inherent in the unprecedented, uncharted process of Democrats settling on an alternative ticket are real: The prospect of their disarray and division — all to Trump’s advantage — kept me from jumping just after Biden’s distressing debate performance.


Two weeks later, however, the greater risk seems to be that Biden stays in the race, loses and returns the keys to the Oval Office to a man who should never darken its door again. “God help us,” says retired Gen. John F. Kelly of that possibility, a sentiment echoed by so many former Trump aides. Also, a Republican rout could cost Democrats control of the House and Senate.

That’s not the legacy Biden wants.

The president’s brain freezes, bumbling responses and vacant, mouth-agape visage at the June 27 debate were bad enough, so bad as to overshadow the ever-unhinged Trump’s fusillade of lies. But what’s been maddening, and what made up my mind against Biden’s candidacy, is this: his and his staff’s utter failure since then to fully acknowledge the crisis on their hands — this wasn’t “one bad night” — and to have Biden act accordingly.

Post-debate, we should have seen daily unscripted appearances at the White House and on the campaign trail, not sporadic sightings. A lengthy press conference. Immediate phone calls to leaders and allies in Congress and state capitals. And, not least, a full panel of neurological tests, after which the president’s doctors would go before cameras to describe the results and — we hope — reassure us that all’s as well as can be expected for an 81-year-old man with the most stressful job on Earth.

Biden and his campaign on Monday finally started executing that sort of salvage operation, with some success, but only after some elected Democrats had gone public with calls for the president to forfeit the nomination. The late-breaking Biden blitz included his letter to Democrats in Congress (“Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us”); his call in to the friendly hosts during MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show (“I am not going anywhere”); meetings with the House’s Black, Hispanic and progressive caucuses; a conference call with hundreds of donors and announcements of added campaign stops.


But Biden has nixed a neurological examination: “No one said I had to,” he countered when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked on Friday whether he’d had or would have such an exam. “Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. … Not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world.”

Just as the Biden brouhaha intensified this week with Congress’ return from a summer break, world leaders also came to Washington for a NATO summit marking the alliance’s 75th anniversary. The dignitaries’ already high anxiety about Trump’s possible return has ratcheted up, along with efforts to “Trump-proof” the organization against threats he could pose to it or to its support for Ukraine against Russia’s war. (Among the debate moments eclipsed by Biden’s meltdown was Trump’s obnoxious response when Biden asked whether he’d pull the U.S. out of NATO: a dismissive shrug.)

Biden may have stanched the bleeding in Congress, for now. Democrats’ scattered calls to step aside were outnumbered by statements of renewed support early in the week. Yet I’m not persuaded because I completely agree with Biden: Democracy is at stake. Where we disagree is on whether he can preserve it by defeating Trump.

The strategists who helped elect the prior two Democratic presidents — Bill Clinton‘s guru James Carville and Barack Obama’s David Axelrod — no longer think Biden can win. Carville, in the New York Times on Monday, proposed a round of town halls for alternative candidates before the convention starts Aug. 19. (First, however, Biden would have to drop out, which is just one reason Carville’s hopedfor caper is unrealistic.) Axelrod, in a CNN column Friday that cited post-debate polls, concluded that Biden is “headed for a landslide defeat to a lawless and unpopular former president.”

Axelrod’s description of Trump pinpoints the tragic irony of the Biden saga. A good man and a good president is being nudged off the stage even as the Republican Party next week will make official its nomination of a bad man who was the nation’s worst president, by historians’ rankings. Or, as Jimmy Fallon put it (because he can find humor where I can’t): “The media has spent almost two weeks calling on a candidate to drop out of the race, and somehow it’s not the convicted felon.” (Who’s also, I’ll add, an adjudicated sexual abuser and financial fraudster.)


I’m saddened to become one of Biden’s nudges, but this election is bigger than Biden. If he’d step aside, Democrats could rally ‘round Vice President Kamala Harris, the other half of the ticket that Democratic primary voters chose, and the one alternative to Biden who could tap the Biden-Harris war chest. Convention delegates could pick her running mate; my choice would be Kentucky’s impressive two-term Gov. Andy Beshear.

Things could get messy, but I believe Democrats would unite given the stakes. And could they win? Polling of hypothetical races is a crapshoot. But a new, younger ticket drawing from Democrats’ deep bench could inject excitement into a match-up that’s left half the voters unhappy with their choices.

Of course if Biden stays in, I’ll vote for him — bracing for the worst, hoping for the best: four more years.


Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Biden tells Michigan crowd he's 'not going anywhere' amid chants of 'don't you quit'



Biden tells Michigan crowd he's 'not going anywhere' amid chants of 'don't you quit'

Join Fox News for access to this content

Plus special access to select articles and other premium content with your account – free of charge.

By entering your email and pushing continue, you are agreeing to Fox News’ Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, which includes our Notice of Financial Incentive.

Please enter a valid email address.

Having trouble? Click here.

President Biden left no ambiguity about his intentions to stay in the 2024 election during a Michigan rally on Friday.

Speaking in Detroit to a crowd that Democrats say passed 2,000 attendees, Biden characterized himself as a people’s champion under siege by elitist powers in Washington D.C.


“I’m the nominee of this party because 14 million Democrats like you voted for me in the primaries,” Biden told the crowd. 


Biden speaks to the crowd during a campaign event in Detroit, Michigan. The president left no ambiguity on whether he intended to continue his 2024 re-election campaign. (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

He continued, “You made me the nominee, no one else. Not the press, not the pundits, not the insiders, not donors — you the voters. You decided, no one else, and I’m not going anywhere.”

The Detroit crowd offered multiple coordinated cheers in support of Biden, including “Don’t you quit” and “We’ve got your back.”


Biden faces increased calls to step down as the Democratic nominee following his performance at the first presidential debate, however strategists with knowledge of presidential campaigns say irreversible damage has not been done to his re-election efforts.

“You’ve probably noticed a lot of speculation lately. What’s Joe Biden going to do? Is he going to stay in the race? Is he going to drop out?” Biden shouted during the rally. “Here’s my answer — I am running, and we’re going to win.”


Biden Detroit Rally

Supporters attend the campaign rally held by Biden at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Michigan. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Democrats are nervous as the calendar marches towards August, when the national convention will be held to confirm the party’s nominee.

Biden has stated on several occasions that he will not be stepping down as the nominee, but continues to face pressure from members within his own party to consider dropping out of the 2024 race.


“The president has been clear — he’s the elected nominee, and he is not budging from that position unless god himself intervenes,” Democrat strategist Mark Penn told Fox News Digital when asked about the state of Biden’s campaign.

Biden Detroit Rally

Biden has defied a chorus of Democratic lawmakers and media pundits that have called for his resignation from the 2024 presidential race. Whether the president decides to step down becomes increasingly relevant as the Democratic National Convention draws nearer in August. (Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Right now, Donald Trump is clearly leading, but it’s nowhere near double digits, so the race remains within the ability of a few percent of switching voters to change the outcome and, as events like the debate show, there’s plenty of game-changing possibilities.”

Reports have also surfaced that former President Barack Obama has been working “behind the scenes” to force Biden out of the race. Multiple media outlets reported Thursday morning on Obama’s alleged efforts, including Politico, which stated that the former president had been given a “heads-up” by Clooney about his guest essay.

A source close to Obama declined to comment on the reports but pointed Fox News Digital to the former president’s statements in support of Biden, both at the Los Angeles fundraiser that became the subject of Clooney’s op-ed and following the debate.


Fox News Digital’s Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.

Continue Reading


Proposed GOP platform silent on same-sex marriage



Proposed GOP platform silent on same-sex marriage

Defining marriage as only between one man and one woman — a bedrock of the GOP platform for decades — is notably absent from a proposal backed by former President Trump that will be voted on next week at the Republican National Convention.

It’s a dramatic change for a party that has long used opposition to same-sex marriage to rally social conservatives. It also reflects broader changing societal views about such relationships — as well as how much Trump has changed the GOP.

The platform language is by no means a full-throated defense of same-sex marriage or gay rights. In fact, many queer rights organizations condemned the platform as particularly dangerous for transgender people and youth and the party as virulently anti-LGBTQ+.

“Who cares what they put in the party platform? What matters is the actions taken,” said Rep. Robert Garcia, an openly gay member of Congress from Long Beach. “If you look at the House, the amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation is at historic levels.”

Still, the removal of same-sex marriage from the platform was a victory LGBTQ+ Republicans have sought for years.


“This is a platform that is inclusive of many communities, including LGBT Americans. It promotes the sanctity of marriage, but doesn’t exclude our marriages,” said Charles Moran, the president of the Log Cabin Republicans, a GOP group founded in California in 1977 that advocates for gay rights and faces varying degrees of acceptance, and opposition, in the party.

“This is a pro-family platform, but it provides a place for our families too,” said Moran, an RNC delegate from San Pedro.

The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad

— 2016 Republican Party platform


Democrats argue that the platform change was a meaningless move designed to paper over Republicans’ concerted efforts to reduce rights for gay, lesbian and trans Americans.

Garcia, citing initiatives in Congress and state legislatures, said Republicans have gone from attacking education and books that teach gay history, “to attacking health education, to attacking something as simple as pride celebrations, obviously attacking trans families and rolling back protections on everything from workplace rights to just the active dehumanization of people.”

The proposed Republican platform mentions marriage just once, in a paragraph about families: “Republicans will promote a Culture that values the Sanctity of Marriage, the blessings of childhood, the foundational role of families, and supports working parents.”

The 2016 platform — the last one adopted by the RNC — contains nearly two dozen references to marriage.

“The data and the facts lead to an inescapable conclusion: Every child deserves a married mom and dad,” the platform reads. It also condemned the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide.


The 2024 platform, approved by a party committee Monday, is just 16 pages, significantly shorter than prior ones. Notably, it scrapped previous language opposing abortion in the aftermath of Roe vs. Wade being overturned. Though it says, “We proudly stand for families and Life,” it also called for the matter to be decided by the states. This policy shift has received the lion’s share of attention and criticism from conservatives.

However, some Republicans have also lamented the lack of language on marriage, such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and the National Assn. of Christian Lawmakers.

“When we heard there was an organized effort to whitewash the GOP platform on the issues of life and marriage, we could hardly believe it,” said South Carolina state Rep. John R. McCravy III, who also serves as the Palmetto state’s chair of the association, in a statement before the platform committee vote.

He added, “I sincerely pray that RNC delegates will not surrender on these important principles.”

The matter will be voted on next Monday, the opening day of the convention in Milwaukee. But given Trump’s backing of the proposal, it’s almost certain to pass.


Sasha Issenberg, the author of “The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage,” said Trump’s views are not surprising.

“The party platform is a political document. This is an area where Trump has been incredibly pragmatic,” said Issenberg, who teaches political science at UCLA.

Same-sex marriage does not divide voters the way it did 20 years ago, Issenberg said, adding that to “state the obvious,” Trump is “not a guy who is terribly moralistic about the sanctity of marriage or a real prude on sexual issues.”

In the past, the GOP’s opposition to same-sex marriage was an effective way to win votes. Such was the case in 2004, when Gavin Newsom, then mayor of San Francisco, allowed the issuance of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. A handful of officials in other local jurisdictions did the same.

Then-President George W. Bush, who was running for reelection, pounced on the issue, framing those actions as “lawlessness,” Issenberg said.


Give me a break. Americans won’t be fooled.

— Gov. Gavin Newsom on GOP’s 2024 platform

State constitutional amendments to prohibit same-sex marriage were placed on the ballots of more than a dozen states, and some Democrats partly blamed Newsom’s actions for Democrat John Kerry’s loss to Bush.

Newsom, now governor of California, was dismissive of the GOP platform change.


“Give me a break,” he said. “Americans won’t be fooled. This is nothing more than an election year stunt to hide their anti-freedom agenda.”

Years ago, Newsom was an outlier among Democrats on LGBTQ+ issues. His party’s platforms did not explicitly call for same-sex marriage rights two decades ago, saying the matter should be left to the states. (The 2004 platform did, however, oppose Bush’s effort to promote a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.)

In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, nearly every Democratic candidate, including then-Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, opposed same-sex marriage.

By the 2012 campaign, Obama and Biden expressed their support for same-sex marriage, a reflection of dramatically changing attitudes nationwide.

In 1996, 27% of Americans believed same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid, according to a Gallup poll. Earlier this year, that number in the same poll had increased to 69%.


Issues such as gender-affirming care and trans athletes remain far more controversial among voters, which partly explains Republican dichotomy on LGBTQ+ issues, Issenberg said.

Indeed, the proposed platform pledges to ban men from playing in women’s sports, not allow taxpayer funds to be spent on gender-affirming surgery — which the platform calls “sex-change surgeries” — and other prohibitions aimed at the trans community.

Still, the GOP has shown signs of being more accepting of people who are not heterosexual. In 2016, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel made history when he said from the podium of the Republican National Convention that he is gay. (Openly gay men previously spoke at conventions but did not mention their sexuality.)

As president, Trump named Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany and then as acting director of national intelligence. Grenell, who did not respond to a request for comment, was the highest-ranking openly gay member of a GOP White House administration.

Grenell, the RNC delegate from Manhattan Beach, is expected to speak at the convention on Wednesday, and is likely to hold a high-ranking post in a second Trump administration.


Members of the Trump family have also been supportive of Log Cabin, notably the former president’s wife, Melania. The former first lady has headlined fundraisers for the group, including events at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump residence in Florida, and Trump Tower in New York City.

Two events in New York City raised $1.4 million the same day that the platform committee approved the new platform.

“It is important that we do not allow society to define us based on superficial characteristics, but rather focus on the common values that bind us as Americans,” she said, according to a transcript of excerpts of her remarks at a second event. “The Log Cabin Republicans have been instrumental in championing this message, and I am proud to stand alongside you.”

Continue Reading


Yearslong tensions boil over as ex-Obama staffers gang up on Biden: 'Clooney was exactly right'



Yearslong tensions boil over as ex-Obama staffers gang up on Biden: 'Clooney was exactly right'

The criticism from ex-Obama staffers aimed at President Biden, including calls for him to exit the 2024 presidential race, serve as a stark reminder of the well-known tensions between the former White House duo that go back nearly two decades.

The often testy relationship between Biden and Obama reportedly began shortly after the latter’s election to the Senate in 2004, when both men served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obama, according to The New York Times, wasn’t fond of Biden’s often-long-winded speeches to the point where, on one occasion, he passed a note to a colleague reading, “Shoot. Me. Now.”

The two eventually found themselves facing off for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, where Biden, while announcing his campaign, controversially referred to Obama as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”


Former President Obama and President Biden. (Getty Images)


The intense blowback from the comment led to an apology from Biden, and Obama telling reporters, “I have no problem with Joe Biden.” 

Biden eventually dropped out of the race after a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses, but was subsequently picked by Obama to be his running mate. The two ultimately defeated Republican nominees John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The first few months of their administration reportedly saw frequent disagreements between the two, including a clash over Obama publicly diminishing Biden while speaking to reporters — which he later agreed with an upset Biden to avoid doing — and eye rolls from the former while the latter spoke during meetings.

Biden was reportedly frustrated with Obama’s cautious decision-making process, and disagreed with him on a number of issues, including sending more troops to Afghanistan at the request of military leadership.

Despite the disagreements, the two eventually developed a close partnership, and even friendship, before Obama reportedly dismissed a suggestion by close advisers to replace Biden in the 2012 re-election campaign with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.



Obama and Biden

President Obama smiles alongside Vice President Biden before signing healthcare insurance reform legislation during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 23, 2010. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Obama was close to Biden and provided strength and support for his family in the lead up to, and following, the death of his son, Beau Biden, from a form of brain cancer, but later worked to convince his vice president not to seek the 2016 Democratic nomination in favor of Clinton.

“The president was not encouraging,” Biden later acknowledged, according to The New York Times. He never publicly expressed disappointment in Obama favoring Clinton, but did reportedly feel he would have been a stronger opponent to then-Republican nominee Donald Trump.

When Biden did eventually launch another presidential campaign in 2019, Obama decided not to endorse him, and instead opted to let the primary process play out. He did eventually offer his endorsement in August 2020 after Biden had secured the nomination.

The tension between the two, despite being friends, appeared to have gone nowhere throughout the campaign when Obama reportedly expressed doubts about Biden’s fitness for office.


“Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f— things up,” a Democratic source recalled Obama saying on one occasion, according to Politico.


Joe Biden, Barack Obama

This White House handout photo shows President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office of the White House during the President’s Daily Economic Briefing on July 30, 2009. (Pete Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden has often compared himself to Obama throughout his presidency, even to the point of frequently using the phrase, “Obama would be jealous,” when talking about an accomplishment, according to a report from Axios earlier this year.

Biden’s disappointing showing in the first presidential debate last month drove many former Obama advisers and allies to call for his exit from the race, despite the former president initially defending him. Those calls included former adviser Jon Favreau, widely known as one of the “Obama bros” during his time at the White House.

Favreau, who attended the same Los Angeles fundraiser that actor George Clooney referenced in his damaging New York Times guest essay calling on Biden to drop out of the presidential race, said during an appearance on CNN earlier this week that “Clooney was exactly right.”


Clooney wrote in his guest essay that the Biden who showed up at the fundraiser was “not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

Ex-Obama adviser David Axelrod has also repeatedly criticized Biden, saying Friday while appearing on CNN that Biden “really needs a royal flush to win this race” against former President Trump.

“There are certain immutable facts of life,” Axelrod said in a separate CNN interview while discussing Biden’s age and leadership. “Those were painfully obvious on that debate stage. The president just … hasn’t come to grips with it. He’s not winning this race.”

President Biden and political strategist David Axelrod split image

Ex-Obama adviser David Axelrod, right, criticized President Biden’s debate performance and ABC News interview. (AP Photo / Getty Images)

Jon Favreau, Joe Biden, George Clooney split

From left: former Obama adviser Jon Favreau, President Biden and actor George Clooney. (Getty Images)

Reports have also surfaced that Obama has been working “behind the scenes” to force Biden out of the race. Multiple media outlets reported Thursday morning on Obama’s alleged efforts, including Politico, which stated that the former president had been given a “heads-up” by Clooney about his guest essay.


A source close to Obama declined to comment on the reports but pointed Fox News Digital to the former president’s statements in support of Biden, both at the Los Angeles fundraiser that became the subject of Clooney’s op-ed and following the debate.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday responded to a recent claim by Trump that Obama “never respected” Biden throughout their time in office. She said Biden and Obama have “a close relationship,” but couldn’t speak to the details of any recent call or conversation between the two.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Continue Reading