'He Can't Win': House Democrats Shell-Shocked After Caucus Meeting on Joe Biden

Biden 'is in obvious decline,' one Democrat said

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
July 9, 2024

House Democrats filed out of Tuesday morning's closed-door caucus meeting about President Joe Biden's fitness for office with grim faces and even grimmer thoughts.

"It felt like a funeral," one Democrat who attended the meeting told Punchbowl News.

"The morale of the caucus is at historic lows," another Democratic member said, according to Semafor, adding that comparing the meeting to a funeral "is an insult to funerals."

The 45-minute meeting—organized by House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.)—comes with just four months remaining until the November election and as Democrats continue to lose ground in polls amid the aftermath of Biden's disastrous debate performance against former president Donald Trump, which forced the topic of Biden's mental fitness to the front of the national discussion.

Congressional Democrats met to discuss their strategy moving forward, an attempt to unify a party that has been fractured in the weeks following the June debate, with some members explicitly calling for Biden to step aside, others declaring utmost loyalty to the president, and many more choosing to remain silent on the question. But the meeting, at first glance, appeared to fail in that unifying objective.

"[We’re] not even in the same book," Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.) told reporters following the meeting when asked if the caucus was on the same page.

Cohen later told Axios that multiple members voiced support for Biden withdrawing from the presidential election. One such member appeared to be Rep. Mike Quigley (D., Ill.).

"He just has to step down," Quigley said of Biden. "He can't win and my colleagues need to recognize that."

"[It's sad] talking about someone you love who is in obvious decline," another Democrat said, CNN reported, characterizing the prevailing mood of the meeting as "sadness." The member echoed what Cohen said, saying there were fellow members who spoke in support of Biden stepping aside.

During the meeting, Democrats were briefed on data showing that they could potentially lose up to 20 seats in the House, according to Bulwark reporter Marc Caputo. A Democratic source told Caputo that the party was "supposed to win the House."

Jeffries didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. The Democratic leader departed the meeting Tuesday through a back exit, avoiding questions from the press.

The White House also didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Overall, poll after poll continues to show Biden trailing Trump with the gap appearing to widen with each passing day. The numbers have alarmed Democrats who have expressed concern about their impact on down-ballot and closely contested local races.

Still, Biden has remained defiant and has aggressively pushed back on calls for him to withdraw from the race.

"The question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now. And it's time for it to end," he wrote in a letter to Democrats on Monday morning. "We have one job. And that is to beat Donald Trump. We have 42 days to the Democratic Convention and 119 days to the general election."

"Any weakening of resolve or lack of clarity about the task ahead only helps Trump and hurts us. It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party, and defeat Donald Trump."