Clooney and Pelosi Join ‘Replace Biden’ Effort

The President's demand that Democrats shut up and rally behind him is going unheeded.

So, yesterday the NYT published an op-ed from George Clooney titled “I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee.” I paid it precisely zero attention because . . . who the hell cares what George Clooney thinks? I mean, he seems like a bright and likable guy, but he’s pretty far down the list of people whose opinions on American politics I care about.

But, as is often the case, I’m an outlier on this owe. The fact that a famous actor who’s also a prominent Democratic fundraiser is speaking out apparently matters to a lot of people.

Slate‘s Heather Schwedel says, “Unfortunately, the George Clooney Op-Ed Was Really Good.

At the risk of revealing Americans to be as shallow as the rest of the world thinks we are, recent history shows that in this country, a celebrity cameo is sometimes what it takes to make a news story feel, well, real. In early March 2020, for example, the COVID pandemic started to seem a whole lot less far away and notional for some of us after we learned that national treasure Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were sick with the virus. So maybe it’s a good sign that as Democrats scramble and squabble over the question of whether Joe Biden should stay in the presidential race, George Clooney has entered the fray.

[…]

Without any of the word-mincing that has characterized Democrats’ sound bites over the past few days, Clooney writes, in no uncertain terms, that Biden has got to go, in prose that at times sounds right out of a fragment-happy screenplay.

[…]

Clooney’s perspective as a star may be less valuable than another perspective he brings to the piece: that of a party insider. He has held some of the top fundraisers for Democrats.

[…]

When he says he’s been part of these behind-closed-doors conversations that only the rich and powerful are privy to, we believe him. Clooney, who has interacted with Biden for years, tells us that he has seen for himself a clear difference in the president’s appearance and behavior, and not just at the debate but at fundraisers as well. Other people in the position to know such things haven’t gone on the record, but George Clooney, of all people, now has.

Indeed, aside from his personal observations of Biden from a recent fundraiser (more on that shortly), perhaps the key passage in Clooney’s op-ed is this:

We are not going to win in November with this president. On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate. This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and Congress member and governor who I’ve spoken with in private. Every single one, irrespective of what he or she is saying publicly. [emphasis mine]

We love to talk about how the Republican Party has ceded all power, and all of the traits that made it so formidable with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, to a single person who seeks to hold on to the presidency, and yet 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.

While I don’t know how many Members and governors Clooney has talked to about the subject, it’s likely at least a handful. And it seems to confirm what I’ve suspected since the debate: significantly more Democratic officials privately hope that Biden will step aside than the ten who have gone on the record. There is also a report out this morning that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is privately open to the idea, despite his public “I’m with Joe” stance.

WSJ reporters Erich Schwarzel, who covers the Hollywood beat, and Sarah Krouse, the LA bureau chief, recount “The Night President Biden Lost George Clooney’s Support.”

Clooney’s words recast memories of a major fundraiser he hosted weeks earlier with other Hollywood stars, a campaign stop that should have been a highlight of the 2024 cycle. Biden joined Barack Obama on stage for a conversation with comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

[…]

The president received a standing ovation when he took the stage. But for some audience members, the mood changed when he started taking questions.

To some in the audience, Biden appeared at times to struggle through answers or keep up with the conversationalists, a harbinger of what millions of Americans would see in the debate weeks later.

A Biden campaign spokesperson said journalists in attendance at the event didn’t characterize the president’s performance that way in their reporting at the time.

Clooney on Wednesday added himself to the growing list of prominent Democrats who said he had concerns over Biden’s at-times frail condition, well before it spilled into public view at the debate.

“It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe ‘big F—ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020,” he wrote.

Campaign officials sought to intervene to prevent the piece from publishing, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

For years, Clooney has been among the entertainment industry’s most prominent Democrats. Now, he is in a growing fraternity of donors calling for the president to step down as their nominee in time for a new candidate to take the top of the ticket, which they say is the best path forward toward beating former President Trump. Clooney’s L.A. event last month raised more than $30 million for the campaign.

Time with Biden at the event was a turning point in his support, Clooney wrote.

“The one battle he cannot win is the fight against time,” Clooney wrote of the 81-year-old president, in an essay published in the New York Times.

When Kimmel joked at the Los Angeles’s Peacock Theater that he had given his son, Billy, a stuffed animal of the president’s dog, “and it bit Billy’s toe off,” the president didn’t register an immediate response—but Obama chimed in with a reference to his Affordable Care Act, quipping, “Fortunately he’s covered!”

In a video taken at the event, Biden is halting in his delivery of some responses.

For the most part, the conversation flows, but to some in the room Biden, who had just returned from the G-7 summit in Europe, seemed to have a hard time keeping up with Kimmel’s quick patter. Obama seemed to pick up loose threads in Biden’s responses, and filled in gaps. One attendee who sat near the stage said it was clear to him by the end of the evening that the president wasn’t as sharp as he once was.

The POLITICO Playbook gang adds this bit of news:

Before Hollywood icon and Democratic donor GEORGE CLOONEY published his buzzy and brutal NYT op-ed yesterday calling on Biden to step aide as the nominee, we’re told he reached out to former President BARACK OBAMA to give him a heads-up. The two men, who are friendly, both attended the L.A. fundraiser Clooney referenced in his piece, where the actor said he’d beheld a diminished Biden and that the leader he interacted with was “the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

While Obama did not encourage or advise Clooney to say what he said, he also didn’t object to it, we’re told from people familiar with their exchange. The lack of pushback is an eye-popping revelation given that the former president was one of the first big voices defending Biden following his abysmal debate performance (while many of his former aides have been some of the incumbent’s biggest critics).

That’s honestly stunning. One would think that Obama would object to adding more fuel to the “Biden’s too old and must step aside” fire unless he share the assessment. And, if he does, one would certainly think he would have privately tried to persuade his former understudy in that direction.

Another Democratic elder has joined the fray in her inimitable style.

NYT (“Pelosi Suggests That Biden Could Reconsider Decision to Stay in the Race“):

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the former speaker, suggested on Wednesday that President Biden still could reconsider his decision to remain in the presidential race, the strongest public signal yet from a senior member of his party that the matter is not yet settled.

Despite mounting concerns that his candidacy could cost Democrats not only the White House but both chambers of Congress, Mr. Biden has been unequivocal about his intention to seek a second term, telling members of Congress in a letter on Monday that his mind is made up and “I’m firmly committed to staying in this race.” On Wednesday, Ms. Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that the president should continue to weigh his options.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” she said. “We’re all encouraging him to to make that decision. Because time is running short.”

When pressed on whether she wanted him to seek re-election, Ms. Pelosi said: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides, we go with.”

Her comments amounted to a bombshell among Democrats who are puzzling over Mr. Biden’s future, but the former speaker quickly moved to walk back any suggestion that she was suggesting he should exit the race.

“The president is great, and there are some misrepresentations of what I have said,” she said in a statement to The New York Times. “I never said he should reconsider his decision. The decision is the president’s. I don’t know what’s happened to The New York Times that they make up news. It isn’t true.”

In the interview, Ms. Pelosi said she wanted to delay the conversations about Mr. Biden’s future until after the NATO summit he is hosting this week in Washington, which on Thursday will include the president’s first news conference since his disastrous debate performance, which raised questions about his mental acuity and fitness to remain in the race.

“Let’s just hold off,” she said. “Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week.”

Pelosi is three years older than Biden but there’s no sign she’s lost her fastball. That she nonetheless willingly stepped aside to allow a younger generation to take the reins is telling. And, despite her jab at the NYT, she knew damn well what she was doing.

Indeed, that’s the theme of a SEMAFOR report (“‘She knows he’s watching’: Nancy Pelosi fuels doubt around President Biden’s nomination“):

This isn’t over.

That was the message Nancy Pelosi delivered subtly, but also loud and clear, in an appearance on Biden’s favorite news show on Wednesday. Refusing to directly endorse Biden’s continued candidacy, she instead pressed him to make a decision on his path that he publicly has already made.

[…]

The former speaker’s appearance was a clear shot in the arm for those skeptics amid calls from pro-Biden Democrats to unite behind him immediately or risk damaging the eventual nominee. It also appeared designed for maximum visibility with the president himself.

“Morning Joe is the President’s favorite show,” one senior Democratic aide said. “She knows he’s watching. She’s not an idiot. She chose those words carefully.”

“Pelosi is getting at what many, many, many people think and feel,” a senior aide to a member in a swing district texted. “Frontliners and lower profile members can only do so much. But they know that Biden won’t listen to their concerns.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the very first Democrat to call on Biden to withdraw after the debate, told The Hill that the former speaker’s comments were “keeping the situation very open, very fluid.”

It was similarly interpreted as a move to extend the conflict by Democrats hoping to put the issue behind them.

“I don’t think it moves members, but I think it compromises the goal to solidify support for Biden/move forward,” another senior Democratic aide said. “Why should anyone else fall back if she doesn’t?”

“She seemed to cast more doubt than members yesterday,” a fourth senior Democratic aide said. “I don’t think this is what they want … seemed like the page was starting to turn and this will complicate it.”

Other Democrats have previously used Pelosi’s framing of the race as unsettled, with many obliquely saying they’ll support Biden’s “decision” regardless of where it ends up. That continued after her appearance as well.

“I can’t speak to Speaker Emerita’s thinking, but all of us acknowledge that the decision here is President Biden’s to make,” Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif. told Semafor. “He has made it for now, but we all know that decisions can change, and if there is new information or changed circumstances, sometimes decisions should change. We’ll have to see what happens.”

Open opposition to Biden, while still rare, also continued to spread on Wednesday.

Rep. Pat Ryan of New York became the eighth House member to call for him to exit the race just hours after Pelosi’s interview. “I’d be doing a grave disservice if I said he was the best candidate to serve this fall,” he told The New York Times.

The Playbook gang offers this background:

She carefully ironed out what she wanted to say yesterday on “Morning Joe,” Biden’s appointment viewing — keeping Democratic leaders abreast of her intentions.

[…]

Those comments were meant to serve as a subtle green light, one person close with Pelosi said, meant to encourage members to speak up about their desire to see change atop the ticket — and to warn Biden to reconsider staying in the race.

But that’s not all Pelosi has been up to: In private conversations with lawmakers, we’re told, the former speaker hasn’t tried to hide her disdain for the situation that party now finds itself in. She’s suggested to people that Biden won’t win this November and should step aside, according to about a half-dozen lawmakers and others who have spoken with her or are familiar with these conversations.

In fact, she’s advised some Democrats in swing districts to do whatever they have to do to secure their own reelections — even if it means asking Biden to relinquish his place atop the ticket.

Pelosi has advised those members, however, to wait until this week’s NATO Summit is finished out of respect for Biden and national security writ large. Some members, we’re told, have already started drafting statements of what they want to say, ready to drop once foreign leaders leave town.

For members who aren’t in swing districts, Pelosi has encouraged them to take their pleas for Biden to step aside directly to the White House or the campaign so as to minimize public fighting. We’re told that some have tried but have not been able to get through to the president.

The speaker emerita, who has publicly said she supports whatever Biden chooses, denied pretty much all of this reporting through a spokesman last night, including that she told anyone Biden should step aside. “Publicly and privately, Speaker Pelosi has acknowledged the concerns that many have expressed in recent days but has repeatedly said that she fully supports whatever President Biden decides to do,” a spox said in a statement to Playbook.

At the end of the day, this doesn’t change anything. Pelosi is right that it’s his decision. Biden is dug in and party rules bind the delegates to nominate him unless he releases them. But the pressure on him to do so is certainly mounting.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, Entertainment, Popular Culture, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    The ‘money’ is sending a clear message. Without the money, a continuation of the Biden campaign is suicide. It’s time for Joe to face reality. He cannot win, he can only drag his party and his country down. He has to go.

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  2. Franklin says:

    Well then they’re going to have to put their money where their mouths are. If Biden’s war chest of $200+ million can’t be transferred to another campaign, it’s on them to make it up.

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  3. Jen says:

    Pelosi is a very talented politician. I can only assume that she’s gamed out the possible scenarios and has landed on a solution.

    I’d love to know who advised Clooney on this though:

    All of the scary stories that we’re being told about what would happen next are simply not true. In all likelihood, the money in the Biden-Harris coffers could go to help elect the presidential ticket and other Democrats.

    Emphasis is mine, because this doesn’t square with campaign finance law as I understand it, and the couched language he’s using makes it feel sorta iffy. And I’ll also note that Clooney is calling for a free-for-all, with this utterly laughable line: “Let’s agree that the candidates not attack one another…”

    Ah, Hollywood.

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  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    It has to be Harris. Black voters are our most faithful constituency, they love Biden but won’t be mortally insulted by switching to Harris. In this case everyone really does need to fall in line.

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  5. Tony W says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It has to be Harris, and in my view it has to be Harris as an incumbent with a few months under her belt so that people can see the world didn’t end when a black woman became president.

    This is literally the only way our country will accept a woman, let alone a black woman, as president.

    As Clooney says, it’s time for Joe Biden to save democracy again in 2024.

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  6. Scott F. says:

    Anyone here think Clooney is going to vote for Trump or not vote or even stop fundraising for Biden? …. Probably not. Then perhaps the WSJ headline “The Night President Biden Lost George Clooney’s Support” is overblown.

    Could we maybe get a post in the coming days on OTB about the completely unhinged rhetoric coming from TFG at his rallies and on his social platform? Or a few words on Project 2025? Just as a palate cleanser?

    If the focus of this election is to be about the stakes and not the horse race (as it should be and must be), who the Democratic nominee will be pales in comparison to who the Republicans are going to nominate with nary a peep about him stepping down. Those of us interested in political blogs don’t have to play along with the WSJ’s drama over substance bias.

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  7. Michael Cain says:

    @Franklin:

    If Biden’s war chest of $200+ million can’t be transferred to another campaign, it’s on them to make it up.

    They can’t make it up because of the limits on the size of contributions directly to the campaign. All they can do is dump money into PACs and super-PACs that aren’t allowed to coordinate with the campaign.

    I’ve probably mentioned it before, but none of the people being suggested as serious replacements, who would be putting their political careers at risk running instead of Biden, are pushing Biden to step aside. Not Harris, not Whitmer, not Newsom, not Warren, not Booker.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Michael Cain:
    Harris is playing it just right. She has to be loyal to the end. That doesn’t mean she won’t take the nomination. None of them can be seen to be angling for the job.

    @Tony W:
    Hillary did win the popular vote, and she was carrying a lot of baggage. I’m torn on the question of Biden resigning and handing it to Kamala. You’re right, it gives her gravitas. But it also opens up possibilities for mistakes, and keeps her campaigning more limited.

    Side note: Joe has lost the comedians. Canaries in the coal mine.

    Second side note: the fact that Biden voters are sticking with Biden is irrelevant. We own 45% of voters outright who’ll never vote Trump. 45% is not a winning number. Harris can energize the youth vote – she carries none of the Gaza controversy.

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  9. Moosebreath says:

    “One would think that Obama would object to adding more fuel to the “Biden’s too old and must step aside” fire unless he share the assessment. And, if he does, one would certainly think he would have privately tried to persuade his former understudy in that direction.”

    What makes you think Obama hasn’t spoken to Biden privately, and it just has not leaked yet?

    Given that we are only 2 weeks after Biden’s poor performance in the debate, we may be seeing that the party has more influence than believed.

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  10. Kathy says:

    Since the panic is not going to end before the election, Biden might as well step down. He can’t win if half his supporters want him out.

    I just hope this won’t be a case of the remedy being worse than the underlying condition.

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  11. steve says:

    I think it has to be Harris because of the loss of support if it is not her. OTOH she is an awful campaigner and had poor support when she was running for POTUS. Turnout will be based entirely upon opposition to Trump and not because she is seen as a positive. Not a good recipe for winning.

    Steve

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  12. JKB says:

    @Michael Reynolds: We own 45% of voters outright who’ll never vote Trump.

    “own”? But then reports are of black and Hispanic voters moving to Trump. Not en masse, but likely enough since Democrats can’t hemorrhage to many black voters without losing their edge in many areas.

    But then people don’t have to vote for Trump. They can vote for RFKjr, who Democrats ran off to ensure Biden didn’t have competition in the primaries.

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  13. DK says:

    @TheRyGuy:

    They lied to you. Repeatedly. For years. And they’re not apologizing for it. That’s how little respect they have for you.

    Is Trump a patholgical liar? Yes or no?

    Has Trump lied to you repeatedly for years about multiple subjects, including the 2020 election? Yes or no?

    Has Fox News and the rest of the rightwing media grifter complex helped Trump lie to you repeatedly for years? Yes or no?

    Despite Trump being an unrepentant pathological liar who has lied to you repeatedly for years, will you continue to support him? Yes or no?

    You’ll ignore these questions and refuse to answer them, because you know the truthful answer will expose you as delusional, dishonest, phony hypocrite.

    Given that, why should anyone here care about anything you have to say? Get real, lying MAGA sheep.

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  14. Jen says:

    @TheRyGuy:

    They lied to you. Repeatedly. For years.

    LOL. Coming from a Trump supporter. You’re a real comedian!

    @Michael Reynolds: Biden might have to resign. A lot is going to rest on what the election laws are in the states.

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  15. Tony W says:

    @JKB: Let’s put it in a way that even a Trump supporter can understand:

    “President” is now a “black job”

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  16. DK says:

    @JKB:

    But then reports are of black and Hispanic voters moving to Trump.

    July 10, 2024:

    Chris Rauen, a Republican from California who is a member of “Haley Voters Working Group,” tells CNN’s Erin Burnett that he’s now voting for President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential race. He also responds to Haley releasing her delegates to the Republican National Convention and urging them to support former President Donald Trump.

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  17. Tony W says:

    @Jen: Fortunately the Supreme Court has ruled that the election laws in the states don’t matter and that, presumably, Harris (or whomever) can appear on the ballot by virtue of the fact that she represents one of the two major parties.

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  18. DK says:

    @Kathy:

    Since the panic is not going to end before the election, Biden might as well step down.

    Ha. You know how Democrats are, we’ll just find other stuff to panic about. In that scenario, Harris’s ‘unlikeability’ and ‘hectoring tone’ or some such.

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  19. Tony W says:

    @DK: I will still panic, at least until their debate when Kamala wipes the floor with Donald’s ass before reminding him that she’s speaking and he’ll do well to not interrupt.

    After that, it’s just comedy while Trump drools on the microphone and his supporters start making monkey memes without realizing that they are doing more harm than good to the Trump campaign.

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  20. Modulo Myself says:

    My take on Harris is that she’s a weak candidate because other people will think she’s weak, lacks gravitas, etcetera. I think against a War on Terror/Watch my Drive George W Bush, she would lose badly in America. But Trump and the current Republican party? I’m not so sure. Everyone who is behind Trump looks like an overcompensating limp dork. Just total human combovers led by a guy who rants about toilets and bacon.

    We’re at the point where gravitas is two old white guys talking about their golf games, and lack of gravitas is having a sense of humor and maybe reading a book. If ever there’s a shot for Kamala Harris, it might be setting her up against Trump, who will definitely assume she’s toast from the get-go.

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @TheRyGuy: @JKB:

    Let’s see how quickly we can make the trolls run away. Simple question, boys:

    Why is it that the only foreign leaders who like Trump are:
    Putin
    Kim Jong Un
    Lukashenko
    Orban
    and Netanyahu.

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  22. Andy says:

    There is going to continue to be this drip, drip, drip.

    We’ll have to see how Biden does at the news conference later today—his first in quite a while. If he flubs it, I think we’ll quickly see more people come out publicly to pressure him to step aside.

    I think Harris is the only realistic option for a number of practical and political reasons.

    As for the people who think Harris is bad because she is black and a woman (strangely, it’s mostly people on the left making this argument against her), I think it’s both wrong and a bit racist and sexist to believe she is less electable than a white man who is functional for only six hours a day and can’t reliably get through unscripted events without major brain farts.

    I’d recommend this Ezra Klein podcast, which suggests that Harris may be underrated and makes some decent arguments in support of that.

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  23. blue galangal says:

    Huh. Rich white men who won’t be affected by a second term of Trump want to change the rules with their fantasy football.

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  24. DK says:

    @Tony W:

    at least until their debate when Kamala wipes the floor with Donald’s ass

    You’d need to keep panicking till the votes are counted. Hillary buried Trump in the debates, but it just made her look uppity and unlikeable or something. Kerry also bested Bush in their debates. Republicans don’t abandon their guy over bad debates, that’s just Democrats.

    Not that The Orange Menace would even agree to debate Kamala, an “ineligible” candidate who was “illegally nominated” and born in Kenya or whatever racist bs he and the deplorables would gin up for the Russian troll farms. Shudder.

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  25. Jen says:

    @Tony W: It would be amusing if that decision ends up overriding any state deadlines and other requirements.

    @DK: Oh, they’ve already started that, apparently Harris is disqualified because despite the fact that she was born in the US, her parents weren’t yet full US citizens so “something, something, birther crap.”

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  26. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Cain:

    They can’t make it up because of the limits on the size of contributions directly to the campaign.

    And when that law is broken, what happens?

    Someone is going to be the test case when the Supreme Court guts every campaign finance law, why not George Clooney? Or maybe they will reaffirm the constitutionality because it helped Democrats.

    Is white-collar crime really a crime? Opinions differ.

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andy:
    The Left is very invested in the, ‘everyone is racist and sexist and everything is the fault of White men,’ narrative. This despite, Obama winning two terms. In spite of Hillary winning the popular vote. In spite of Harris polling as well as Biden. In spite of two swing states having women governors. In spite of White men having moved toward Biden in 2020 as White women edged away.

    It’s apparently even the White men who are behind the move to push out a White man in favor of a Black woman.

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  28. DK says:

    @Scott F.:

    Could we maybe get a post in the coming days on OTB about the completely unhinged rhetoric coming from TFG at his rallies and on his social platform?

    LOL. Trump being a senile psychopath is not news, it’s baked into the cake or something. It’s all normal now. You know this.

    …who the Democratic nominee will be pales in comparison to who the Republicans are going to nominate with nary a peep about him stepping down

    Because Rethuglikkklans will rally around a Republican rapist while we good limousine liberals here — most of whom have enough privilege to either survive or escape Tudor-style genteel tyranny, unlike those most likely to suffer — will dehumanize and degrade a very good Democratic president, patting ourselves on the back for not falling in line and not being a cult or whatever.

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  29. DK says:

    @Jen:

    Harris is disqualified because despite the fact that she was born in the US, her parents weren’t yet full US citizens so “something, something, birther crap.”

    So “disqualified because she’s not white” then, they mean. They are so transparent. But, it works for them.

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  30. Gustopher says:

    @Andy:

    As for the people who think Harris is bad because she is black and a woman (strangely, it’s mostly people on the left making this argument against her), I think it’s both wrong and a bit racist and sexist to believe she is less electable than a white man who is functional for only six hours a day and can’t reliably get through unscripted events without major brain farts.

    America is a racist and sexist place. I have no doubt that some of the fear from Democrats about Harris comes from their own racism and sexism, but that most of it is just an acknowledgement of the very real fact that a lot of Americans are racist and sexist.

    Electing a Black man broke America. It got us the Tea Party and Trumpism and made open racism acceptable on the right. “Barack The Magic Negro” was a regular musical interlude on Rush Limbaugh. This also drifts out into the rest of America, where hearing open racism became normalized. We are no longer the same America that was willing to elect Obama in the first place.

    Switching to Harris would be a huge gamble.

    If it is going to happen, it would be lessened by Biden stepping down from the Presidency. Let Americans see that the world doesn’t end when Harris has PMS, etc.

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  31. Kathy says:

    @DK:

    I know. I’ve said as much in prior posts.

    But hopefully it won’t be this kind of constant, relentless panic that drowns out everything else. Namely bringing attention to Wannabehitler’s blueprints for becoming hitler, like project 2025 and the GQP fetal personhood wish snuck in the party platform.

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  32. DK says:

    @Kathy:

    the GQP fetal personhood wish snuck in the party platform.

    Such nice people, these forced birthers.

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  33. Jack says:

    “I paid it precisely zero attention because . . . who the hell cares what George Clooney thinks?”

    I seriously doubt Clooney wrote it. All indications are that it is Obama really calling the shots. And why not –

    M Reynolds got it right: the money is drying up. And further, straight ticket voting is the norm despite peoples general claims about splitting. So down ballot candidates are scared out of their minds. Hence, reason #2 for the mutiny.

    The only question now is does Team Biden defy Obama and the Party, and what are the legal implications of attempts to strip his delegates.

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  34. Scott F. says:

    @Andy:

    I think it’s both wrong and a bit racist and sexist to believe she is less electable than a white man who is functional for only six hours a day and can’t reliably get through unscripted events without major brain farts.

    To clarify, the white man you are referencing here is Trump, right?

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  35. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.:

    Could we maybe get a post in the coming days on OTB about the completely unhinged rhetoric coming from TFG at his rallies and on his social platform? Or a few words on Project 2025? Just as a palate cleanser?

    I’ll almost certainly write more about Trump as we get closer to the election. But far and away the most interesting story right now is that the Democratic Party seems to be circling the wagons against its nominee, the sitting President, because they think he’s not up to the job of campaigning for re-election. I’ve not seen anything like that before.

    @Moosebreath: That’s poorly written. If Obama green-lit the op-ed, it almost certainly means he agrees with it. And, if he agrees with it, I can’t imagine he hasn’t already told Biden.

    @Kathy and @steve: To me, it’s not JUST about who has the better chance of defeating Trump. It seems pretty clear at this point that Biden is not capable of governing. There are reports of NATO leaders and diplomats having WTF reactions to him at the summit.

    @blue galangal: What rules do you think are being changed? We’re pretty much in uncharted territory here.

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  36. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Well, if one thinks America is too sexist and racist to ever run someone like Harris for President, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and advocating against Harris because of her inherent traits because of a belief that those traits will lose her the election is not exactly a profile in courage and insults two important bases of the party.

    My view is that Harris’ electability will turn on her ability to perform and campaign well (which is admittedly an open question at this point) – but she should be given the chance to prove herself and not be kneecapped by people in her own tent for not being an old white man with cognitive impairment. The racists and sexists are already solidly in the Trump camp for the most part, so in my estimation, the advantages gained from a young, non-senile candidate without Biden’s other baggage will be much bigger than any losses from any racist/sexist Democrats or independents who would switch their votes to Trump to avoid voting for her.

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  37. Andy says:

    @Scott F.:

    To clarify, the white man you are referencing here is Trump, right?

    I was talking about Biden, but you could put Trump in there too.

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  38. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    If that’s so, then Biden doesn’t merely need to drop out of the campaign, but resign the presidency as well. Or the 25th amendment needs to be applied.

    Now, if Biden has deteriorated, it’s possible it’s happened suddenly, say in the last 6 weeks or so. But it’s far more likely it’s happened gradually over time. So where was everyone else who meets him regularly for the past, I don’t know, six to 12 months?

    I wonder if there’s a manual for navigating a world gone insane.

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  39. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Hey, all those guys you listed are TOUGH GUYS. Trump grovels to TOUGH GUYS. Plus Putin is a “Christian” strongman who hates gays. What could be better?

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  40. Jay L Gischer says:

    I think this framing is bunk. Pelosi did not call for Biden to drop out. She did the opposite of that.

    All that juicy dishing in that NYT piece (Remember how the NYT and the Biden camp are at daggers?) is not in quotes, nor is it attributed. Which is to say somebody said it to a NYTimes reporter. It doesn’t make it true.

    Garbage rumor-mongering. Also tea-leaf reading. I’ve done the latter a bit, and well, it’s not super reliable.

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  41. SenyorDave says:

    If Biden does drop out, one big plus is that while there will surely be a few days of “Harris is not fit to be president”, IMO it will dissipate quickly because the only real argument against her will end up being the color of her skin, and maybe some nonsense about her personal life (a case very hard to make when you are going against Trump). But the unfit argument is difficult to make, she is a VP, senator from CA, AG from CA. I think the MSM won’t go along, and maybe we can get back to pointing out the truly unfit candidate. Who knows, maybe the MSM will start focusing on Trump’s inability to talk in coherent sentences and his complete lack of knowledge about world and domestic affairs.

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  42. just nutha says:

    @DK: No need to speculate; she’s already been tagged as a poor campaigner upstream. The shrillness and such are just the examples for that overarching message.

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  43. wr says:

    @Jack: “I seriously doubt Clooney wrote it. All indications are that it is Obama really calling the shot”

    And by “indications,” Jack means all those little voices that keep whispering in his brain when he forgets to put on the tin foil hat.

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  44. Jen says:

    I think that having Biden step down from the presidency is one way of getting around the “racist/sexist” issue.

    Yes, it would be a LOT for Harris to manage, along with selecting a VP and learning on the job while running for said job, but it’s harder to say no to a *sitting President* when she asks for your support ($$), and it negates the “I just can’t see a woman doing that job” when the woman is IN the job, literally doing it.

    ETA: Go big or go home, if the Dems are going to throw Biden to the side of the road, best not to do so in a half-assed effort.

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  45. Scott F. says:

    @Jen:

    Yes, it would be a LOT for Harris to manage, along with selecting a VP and learning on the job while running for said job, but it’s harder to say no to a *sitting President* when she asks for your support ($$), and it negates the “I just can’t see a woman doing that job” when the woman is IN the job, literally doing it.

    Once again, focusing on the stakes and not the horse race, if it is not possible for the Democrats and the punditry and the advocates and the press to convince the undecideds and uninformed that a black woman who is already ably serving as VP would be better suited to the presidency than the crazy man who is, pretty much every day, spouting nonsense about electrocution by boat battery or a national crisis in water pressure, then the US will get the government it deserves. If Project 2025 or Schedule F are properly exposed as publicly embraced plans for US governance in the control of Republicans and the US electorate still chooses that over the continuation of a successful Democratic administration, because of ageism or sexism or racism, then the US will get the government it deserves.

    I loath to say it, because as a white male in California, I’m probably not going to bear the brunt of the disaster that will follow a return of The Donald and my heart breaks for the people who will be truly, irreparably screwed in an authoritarian America. Geez people, let’s not lose the thread.

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  46. just nutha says:

    @Andy: I don’t think that your observation about all the objections relating to Harris’s shortcomings coming from the left* is particularly strange or unusual at all. One of my long-term objections to liberalism is that liberals seem quick to jettison principles in the heat and strain of the moment (any one remember people here reminding the audience that the goal is winning recently?). Harris is just the latest designated blamee about to be chucked under the bus.

    The preceding view is my own personal bias underlying my decision to see myself as a non voter. You may object as you wish, but do it for the lurkers; my mind is made up and will not be swayed by “the facts” (as the old saw goes).

    *I also suspect that the observation about the complaints coming mostly from the left is likely untrue except as conservatives follow the dictum of never interfering with you enemy while said enemy is making a mistake. The excessive transparency and laundry airing liberals seem to engage in may be poorly thought out, but it is entertaining.

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  47. Matt says:

    @Andy: Harris polls about the same as Biden and she hasn’t even been attacked by the the GOP and it’s media empire yet. Hell there’s polls showing Hillary as the best replacement for Biden and we all know how that went last time (Remember the +6 points lead she had the day prior to the election?).

    All it takes is one debate of Trump shitting on Harris and we’ll be back to where we started. I don’t see how she can handle Trump’s bullshit without all the usual female derogatory stereotypes being tossed at her after the performance. Like I said prior the low information woman I work with are already starting to say the same shit about Harris that they said about Hillary.

    Then there’s the endless lawsuits that will tie up everything campaign related from money to ballots. What I keep seeing is basically “oh no we can’t win so lets make sure we can’t win by throwing everything out and starting over”..

    It’s mind blowing for me to watch this. Oh no Biden is old and a little slower. Meanwhile Biden’s opponent can’t even remember where he’s at or who he’s talking about while spewing nonsense and lies galore with the stated intent to be a dictator.

    YOU guys are worried about an old man being old while your opponents are talking about a revolution to destroy our democracy. Just remember kids the revolution will remain bloodless as long as the left allows it to be..

    @Scott F.: That argument isn’t working for Biden so why do you believe it would work for Harris who is seen as a DEI hire that does nothing?

    Even if Biden stepped aside immediately and made Harris president no one is going to be impressed with her having not even four months at the wheel.

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  48. just nutha says:

    @Jack: WOW! You live in an amazing alternate reality and should really be charging for these tours rather than giving them away.

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  49. just nutha says:

    @wr: Wait!! You’re telling us that these aren’t tours of an exciting alternate reality but just the ramblings of a loon? Whoa!! I may need counseling.

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  50. Gustopher says:

    @wr: And again, if we’re going to have fantasies of everyone being controlled by someone else, then what about Harris?

    Who has the most to gain by removing Biden from the ticket? Harris. She’ll become the nominee without having to go through a primary that she would lose! And then we will all be forced to vote for her in the general because of “Reasons.”

    The lunatics really should give the Black woman some credit. She propped up Old Joe until he just couldn’t be a reliable puppet, and now she’s discarding him when he becomes a liability. That’s a compelling narrative.

    It was all a plan for her to effectively be President for four terms (two Biden, two herself) and reshape America by making everyone Black and trans, and that plan is crumbling along with Old Joe’s health. It has drama!

    But instead we get “Obama is writing Op-Eds for George Clooney.” That’s just weak sauce.

    If people are just making shit up they should make up better shit. There are limitless possibilities when you’re not constrained by reality. At least tie Hillary Clinton and Ilhan Omar into it so they have a cabal of evil women or something.

    ETA: Did Harris order the attack on Pelosi’s husband to get her to fall in line? Harris is from California and the attack was in California, so it’s a possibility we can’t rule out.

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  51. James Joyner says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Pretty much everybody is reporting this the same way. She’s an incredibly savvy pol. She went on Biden’s favorite political talk show, after he has repeatedly declared that he’s staying in the race, and says that he needs to make a decision about whether to run soon. There’s just no way to read that other than a not-so-gentle nudge to change his mind.

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  52. Matt says:

    @Gustopher:

    And again, if we’re going to have fantasies of everyone being controlled by someone else, then what about Harris?

    I remember seeing that talking point a few times in the early days of Biden’s presidency. For some reason everyone eventually landed on the whole Obama is the secret string puller talking point.

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  53. CSK says:

    Today Mitch McConnell warned Republicans not to cozy up to dictators. Tomorrow Trump will be hosting Viktor Orban at Mar-a-Lago.

    The last person Orban visited was Putin.

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  54. Jen says:

    Pssst: A lot of op-eds aren’t written by the person who signs them, y’all know that, right?

    I’ve ghost-written a fair number myself.

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  55. CSK says:

    @Jen:

    I assume you were well-compensated. I always told my students they shouldn’t accept any writing jobs that didn’t pay them money or give them credit, but both were best.

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  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher:

    It was all a plan for her to effectively be President for four terms (two Biden, two herself) and reshape America by making everyone Black and trans, and that plan is crumbling along with Old Joe’s health. It has drama!

    You definitely have a flair for this! I suspect that if you had a more aggressive work ethic, you could make it in pulp fiction or at least graphic novels.

    And yes, the people who are making shit up should definitely be making up better shit.

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  57. Jen says:

    @CSK: Yes, decently compensated. For a writer. 😉

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  58. Bobert says:

    @Tony W:
    I assume you are referring to the Colorado ballot case. I seem to recall that the take-away was that the state lacked authority to envoke a post-civil war prohibition for an insurrectionist to be denied election consideration.
    (A bit more nuanced than just “state laws don’t apply”.)
    If state laws didn’t have application (for a federal presidential election) then would be candidates could demand their name on the ballot anytime at all, even after a state has already begun to print ballots.
    I’m just not sure that the Colorado case says what you think it says.

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  59. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Like Pres. Biden, I think I’m righter, and the detractors are less righter, but hey, I’m just a simple Luddite

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

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  60. Scott F. says:

    @Matt:

    That argument isn’t working for Biden so why do you believe it would work for Harris who is seen as a DEI hire that does nothing?

    What argument isn’t working? Because, I’m not seeing anyone making the argument I’m making, at least not here.

    The arguments I’m seeing are: “It’s got to be Biden” or “It’s got to be Harris” and the occasional “It’s got to be a magic candidate with no downsides.” The debate is all about what potential Democratic nominee is best positioned to beat Trump. It’s all about the race.

    While the argument I’m making is that the Democrats could nominate Biden, Harris, Hillary, or zombie Teddy Roosevelt and that will only minimally impact the outcome of the race. The GOP will muddy any possible candidate (mostly by making sh!t up as they usually do) and any voter who would have voted for Trump over Biden because he is old, would find their way to vote for Trump over Harris because she is black, or over Hillary because she is shrill, or over zombie Roosevelt because he eats brains.

    The argument I’m making is that we need to start talking much, much, much less about who the Democrats might possibly nominate and start talking much, much, much more about who the Republicans will most certainly nominate and the enormous stakes should the US elect a convicted felon, insurrectionist, and wannabe dictator as POTUS. This is the message from the Biden/Harris campaign that all this navel gazing is drowning out. The Lincoln Project folks have been doing a very nice job of making this point as well.

    The argument I’m making is that our responsibility is to shift the conversation that the undecided and uninformed potential voters are going to start to absorb as the election gets closer away from the players and onto the game. If the election is about what kind of country do we want to have (democracy or authoritarian) and not over the personality of the POTUS, I believe Democrats will prevail. I believe getting the discussion there is the only way Democrats will prevail.

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  61. Mikey says:

    Yesterday President Biden met with union members prior to his meetings at the NATO summit. He spoke extemporaneously, no notes, no teleprompter. He looked and sounded fine. Of course it won’t be the subject of 190 stories in the New York Times, and the only reason anyone saw it is Lawrence O’Donnell played it on his show.

    This should start when Biden takes the mic, but if not, skip to 14:24.

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  62. Jack says:

    LOL

    I didn’t say Obama wrote the op-ed. I said he approved. He’s calling the shots. But you guys are so hell bent on servic..uh, supporting Biden you can’t read the room.

    The money has dried up.

    The down ballot candidates have prevailed in their concerns made oh, so clear to the movers and shakers in the Party. Obama sees the writing on the wall.

    There are two choices. Take Old Yeller and do what has to be done. Or suffer a total annihilation in November.

    Obama, Schumer, Pelosi, the donors all get it. Stop drooling, OTB commenters, and get some sense.

    It will be Harris, someone who got obliterated in the primary, has nothing to tout for her tenure, but has the right, well, attributes, at least in a Democrat world. (And seriously, you don’t think she will be asked what she has to say for her tenure, and how in the world she didn’t see this issue in Biden – a national security issue no less – but sat on her ass and said nothing? That’s Presidential timber there!. ).

    Look, the fraud known to any thinking person since the basement campaign has been exposed. Your problem. Not mine. Choose denial and tin foil hat references if you like.

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  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jack: Every time I hear someone droning on about VP “tenure,” I’m reminded of a quote about having one’s hand in a lukewarm bucket of spit. Carry on.

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  64. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Step right up Ladies and Germs! Step Right Up!

    For their next trick, the punditocracy will tell us how Johnny/Jane Unlose-able–too gutless to openly challenge a drooling old Parkinsons candidate–too unbeatable to beat Grandpa in consecutive Primary seasons–will pummel a Republican opponent who knows no bounds of civility, decency, or decorum.

    You must see this Ladies and Germs! Step Right Up!

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  65. Scott F. says:

    @Scott F.:
    Well, thank goodness. Here is the LA Times making the argument I’m trying to make.

    More of this!

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  66. DK says:

    @James Joyner:

    Pretty much everybody is reporting this the same way.

    This groupthink mindset is a problem in punditry. ‘Pretty much everyone is doing X’ does not necessarily mean that X is correct on the merits. Pretty much everyone in the political press in 2016 was telling voters the most important consideration was Hillary’s emails. Pretty much everyone was wrong.

    Pundits should hew first to their own analysis, rather than to a prevailing narrative. The latter is part of the media’s bias towards laziness that Dr. Taylor mentioned the other day.

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  67. Michael Reynolds says:

    The pundits are right because they know how narrative works. This narrative cannot be fixed, it can only be changed with a surprise twist. And since Biden’s not getting younger, it has to be Kamala. She changes the whole story, re-shuffles the deck. And loyalty to Biden at this point is madness.

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  68. DK says:

    The pundits are wrong because just because a bunch of arrogant, elitist white people insist one plus one equals 3, that answer is incorrect. A white nonsense narrative does not change the facts, no matter how good white America has always been at lying to all of us and demanding we acquiesce to their bullshit.

    Continuing to smear Joe Biden at this point is evil.

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  69. DK says:

    But just like I said on the main thread: now that Biden has exposed his haters as a bunch of amoral, dishonest, feeding freezy clowns, they’ll immediately switch from their hatemongering, ageist Fuck Joe Biden lie that Biden is senile and in cognitive decline to “Oh well that’s the narrative.”

    The haters lie and lie and lie over and over again, the stupids fall for the lie, and then when their lies set in they pretend they were innocent and nothing could be done. Same horseshit so many white men left and right pulled with Hillary and 2016.

    Evil.

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  70. Alex K says:

    Three national polls came in today. One showing Biden down by a point. One showed a tie. One showed Biden up by a point.

    Giving up the advantages of incumbency and a great economy in a coin flip election in favor of having a new candidate start up with about three months before people start voting doesn’t seem particularly savvy to me.

    If after the past two weeks of every op-ed columnist who was sure DeSantis would beat Trump telling Biden to drop out while the NYT and cable media floods the zone with “Biden is unfit” coverage doesn’t actually move the polls…. doesn’t that say something about Biden’s ability to campaign? This is probably the worst his news cycle is going to get and he’s basically unscathed as far as the most recent polls are concerned.

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  71. Fog says:

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