Clyburn’s discussion of a ‘mini-primary’ fuels more talk of whether Biden should end his campaign

by Admin
Clyburn's discussion of a 'mini-primary' fuels more talk of whether Biden should end his campaign

NEW YORK (AP) — He is often credited as the man who delivered the Democratic nomination to Joe Biden with a pivotal endorsement four years ago.

But on Wednesday, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., sent a resounding message to the president and elected officials across the nation that it may be time to move on.

Clyburn, a Biden campaign co-chair, outlined a process to replace Biden during an interview with CNN. Should Biden step aside, Clyburn said, he expects a “mini-primary” featuring Vice President Kamala Harris, governors and others in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention in August.

“You can actually fashion the process that’s already in place to make it a mini-primary and I would support that,” said Clyburn, who also spoke to Biden on Wednesday in a conversation his office refused to discuss.

Clyburn’s decision to spell out in detail how Biden might be replaced was viewed as a clarion call by some top donors, party insiders and even members of Biden’s campaign who increasingly believe that the 81-year-old president will be forced to step aside following a debate performance that shook the party’s confidence in his ability to defeat Republican former President Donald Trump in November.

The extraordinary remarks echoed throughout the private conversations of donors, Democratic National Committee members and even Biden’s campaign staff, according to multiple participants who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive discussions. In response to Clyburn’s latest comments, at least one member of Biden’s finance committee predicted that the president would not survive the political crisis.

Indeed, the conversation among many insiders has begun to shift from whether Biden should stay in the race to the logistics of his departure.

Clyburn spokesperson Brianna Frias later clarified that he was responding to a hypothetical question and not trying to restart the nomination contest.

“He was not calling for a ‘mini primary,’” Frias said. ”Instead, he was explaining the existing process. The congressman fully supports this president at the top of the ticket and it would be irresponsible to report anything otherwise.”

A significant group of party insiders wants the incumbent president to stay in the race, believing he remains the party’s best hope to defeat Trump.

“I’m for Joe Biden. I encourage Joe Biden to continue to run for president and I believe that he will be reelected,” said Dick Harpootlian, a South Carolina state senator and Biden supporter. “Even in this weakened condition, I do believe he will beat Donald Trump.”

Clyburn’s comment came a day after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent shockwaves across the party by raising questions about Biden’s fitness to serve. “It’s a legitimate question to say, is this an episode or is this a condition?” Pelosi said on MSNBC.

Biden vowed on Wednesday to stay in the race.

“I am running. I am the leader of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out,” Biden said in a call with staffers on his reelection campaign, according to a top aide who posted his comment on the X social media platform.

Privately, however, Biden’s allies shared increasing concern that he would undermine their chances to win the House and the Senate if he’s on the ballot this fall. And top donors fear that Biden’s fundraising, while strong in June, will slow considerably this month, especially among high-dollar donors.

New polling also shows warning signs.

Trump had a slight lead over Biden in two polls of voters conducted after the debate. But one of the polls — conducted by SSRS for CNN — found that three-quarters of voters, including more than half of Democratic voters, said the party has a better chance of winning the presidency in November with a candidate other than Biden.

Around 7 in 10 voters — and 45% of Democrats — said that Biden’s physical and mental ability is a reason to vote against him.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of Democratic officials believe that Harris should be the favorite to replace Biden. Those involved in private discussions also acknowledge that California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer remain viable alternatives.

But for some insiders, Harris is viewed as the only nominee who would quickly unify the party and avoid a messy and divisive convention fight.

Clyburn, who described Biden’s debate performance as “concerning,” said in a MSNBC interview on Tuesday that he would support Harris if Biden were to step aside.

“This party should not in any way do anything to work around Ms. Harris,” Clyburn said. “We should do everything we can to bolster her whether she’s in second place or at the top of the ticket.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign cheered on the Democratic dysfunction in a statement predicting victory.

“President Trump will beat any Democrat on Nov. 5 because he has a proven record and an agenda to Make America Great Again,” said senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles.


Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro in Washington, Meg Kinnard in Charlotte and Jill Colvin in New York contributed.

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