Ahead Of Key Meeting, Many House Democrats Still Ridin’ With Biden


Skeptics of President Joe Biden and his ability to weather a tough presidential campaign ahead may be getting the spotlight, but the president on Monday retained the trust of many House Democrats, including in key parts of the party.

House Democrats are set to have their weekly party meeting Tuesday morning, their first since the June 27 debate and a week’s worth of cleanup and attempts at reassurance by Biden since.

Unlike most of the weekly gatherings, this one will take place off the U.S. Capitol campus and, in an unusual move, members have been warned they will have to give up their phones at the start, presumably to lessen the chances of live leaking to reporters.

For some, the matter is simple.

“Joe Biden is our president. He is the Democratic nominee and we’re going to fight like hell to get him reelected,” Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) said early Monday evening.

While New Mexico has been mentioned as one state potentially in play if Biden’s support weakens further, Stansbury doubts that.

Stansbury said that, at political events she attended over the weekend, she saw only enthusiasm when she talked about Biden and his accomplishments.

“I think people understand what a consequential president he’s been and they are more motivated than ever to get back out there, to get on the campaign trail,” she said.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Biden retains his support and that of many other members of the group. The CBC was slated to have a Zoom meeting with Biden on Monday night.

“So long as he’s in the race, I’m with him,” Johnson told reporters ahead of the Zoom meeting.

“My sense is that the president enjoys strong support among the CBC,” he added.

Biden got a boost Monday from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Jeffries, in his first public comments since Biden’s interview Friday night, told CNN, “I made clear the day after the debate, publicly, that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also said Biden is the nominee and will remain so. “The matter is closed,” she told reporters.

And Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Jeffries’ predecessor as leader of the House Democrats who still retains wide influence in the party, praised Jeffries and Biden. In an interview last week, she suggested Biden should give more interviews to prove his mental acuity.

“Joe Biden has been a great president. He deserves our respect,” she told a Politico reporter Monday.

On the other hand, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said it was time for Biden to step back. “I think it’s become clear that he’s not the best person to carry the Democratic message,” he said on CNN.

Others who may be skeptical carefully crafted their responses to reporters’ questions, out of respect.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who was described as doubtful about Biden on a conference call with party leaders Sunday, declined to say Monday whether he thought Biden should remain or leave the race but acknowledged “it’s been a tough couple of weeks.”

“This is about the future of democracy in this land. So we just have to pay very close attention to everything that’s happening and make the best possible decisions to protect democracy and freedom in our country,” he said.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), an 11-term congressman who is not running for reelection, also declined to say what he thought Biden should do. He did say picking a new nominee would be messy.

“It’s his decision at this point and I’m standing behind that,” he said. “I think he’ll make the right decision.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a longtime member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she remains firmly with the “Biden-Harris campaign.”

“I do think that he is capable and that team is capable of perhaps opening up the most progressive era in our country,” she added.

Reopening the nomination would bring “utter chaos,” she said. “I worry about that. We don’t need to do that. I think we have a team that can absolutely deliver.”