Questions over his health | Joe Biden faces rising anxiety in his own camp

(Washington) Democratic heavyweights and congressmen began on Tuesday to publicly question Joe Biden’s fitness, even with a first public call for the American president to withdraw his candidacy for a second term.


Published at 11:22 a.m.

Updated at 1:48 p.m.



Camille CAMDESSUS and Aurélia END

France Media Agency

“I am hopeful that he will make the difficult and painful decision to step down. I respectfully urge him to do so,” Texan Lloyd Doggett wrote in a statement to US media.

“He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024,” added this Democratic parliamentarian, the first to publicly demand that the president throw in the towel.

“I think it’s legitimate to ask whether this is just an episode or a lasting state,” said the very influential Nancy Pelosi, former Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, on Joe Biden’s favorite channel, MSNBC.

PHOTO SAMUEL CORUM, ARCHIVES AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett has become the first member of the party to publicly call on President Joe Biden to step down as the Democratic presidential nominee.

She is obviously referring to last Thursday’s calamitous debate, in which the 81-year-old Democrat lost ground to his Republican rival Donald Trump.

Since then, party officials have seemed hesitant, perhaps giving Joe Biden a chance to really calm concerns with a teleprompter-free press conference or a long interview without a safety net, which he did not do.

But the Democrats’ patience is clearly running out.

“We have to be honest with ourselves that this was not just a horrible night,” House Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat from northern Illinois, told CNN on Tuesday.

Survey

A poll published Tuesday by CNN has further fueled the anxieties of the Democratic camp: 75% of voters questioned believe that the party would have a better chance in November with a candidate other than Joe Biden.

Donald Trump is credited with 49% of the national vote, compared to 43% for his rival, a gap unchanged from the last such poll, conducted in April.

Vice President Kamala Harris, without winning, would be better placed, at 45% against 47% for the former Republican president of 78 years, in the margin of statistical error.

Other potential Democratic candidates, some of whom are little known to the general public, would face Donald Trump with scores similar to that of the current president, despite their lack of notoriety, for example California Governor Gavin Newsom, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, or Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

“I blame the campaign team for brushing aside the questions that people are asking,” Democratic Senator Peter Welch said in an interview with the Semafor website, published Tuesday.

Recent articles, particularly from Axios and Politico, have suggested that the president would only be fully functional between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and would only read notes written to avoid any annoyance.

Since his election, the oldest president in US history has undeniably lost his oral and physical ease.

So far, the White House has consistently dismissed all questions about Joe Biden’s intellectual acuity, sometimes with marked irritation.

” Decline ”

A recent survey by Wall Street Journal reporting a “decline” of the octogenarian earned the newspaper a wave of particularly harsh criticism from its communications team.

For several months now, the American president, who has fallen in public on several occasions, has not used the large gangway of his plane, preferring a shorter and more stable staircase.

For several weeks, he has also surrounded himself with advisers to go from the White House to his helicopter on the lawn, which avoids long camera shots of his very stiff gait.

The US president, who has always been prone to gaffes, has not given a long press conference since January 2022 and has reduced the number of impromptu exchanges with journalists.

The Democrat spends almost every weekend at one of his Delaware homes, with no official schedule.

When Joe Biden recently visited France for the commemorations of the Allied landings of 1944, he went straight from the airport to his hotel, where he remained locked up for a whole day, without any public appearance.

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