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Biden Slows Bleeding of Support, but Democrats’ Concerns Linger: Live Updates


Biden Slows Bleeding of Support, but Democrats’ Concerns Linger: Live Updates

As President Biden watches his support among some key Democrats in Congress quietly crumble, one group has emerged as a vocal base of support on Capitol Hill: Black lawmakers, particularly older ones.

While most elected Democrats have avoided publicly weighing in on Mr. Biden’s fate and many have privately expressed skepticism that he can remain the party’s candidate after a disastrous debate performance, the leader and senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus have filled the void with full-throated expressions of support.

It is reminiscent of how Black Democrats rallied behind Mr. Biden to help propel him to his primary victory in 2020. It also speaks to a broader racial and generational divide in the party that could be consequential in determining how it moves forward from the president’s current crisis.

More than a dozen Black Democrats in both the House and Senate have begun to offer a strong defense of him, even as their colleagues whisper in increasingly urgent tones about pushing him aside.

On Monday, Representative Steven Horsford of Nevada, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus who is facing a tough battle for re-election, released a statement expressing support for the president.

“President Joe Biden is the nominee and has been selected by millions of voters across this country, including voters here in Nevada,” he wrote, adding that voters know that “President Biden and Vice President Harris are fighting for them.”

His public support came shortly after Mr. Biden sent a letter to congressional Democrats in which he again defied calls from some to step aside, writing that he was “firmly committed to staying in the race.”

Other veteran Black members of Congress have loudly proclaimed their backing for Mr. Biden in recent days.

“The choice for American leadership and our democracy is clear,” Representative Joyce Beatty of Ohio, a former chairwoman of the Black Caucus, said in a social media post late Sunday in which she lauded Mr. Biden’s record as a defender of democracy.

“I don’t care what anybody says — it ain’t going to be no other Democratic candidate,” Representative Maxine Waters of California told audiences at the Essence festival in New Orleans over the weekend. “It’s going to be Biden.”

Ms. Waters was also one of the few top Democrats who spoke up for the president during a high-level virtual meeting on Sunday in which several ranking members of major committees privately said he needed to withdraw from the race, according to people who attended and were briefed on the session. Representative David Scott of Georgia, another senior member of the Black Caucus, also spoke in favor of Mr. Biden, the people said.

Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the co-chairman of Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign, continues to be one of his most prominent supporters.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

The Biden campaign has taken solace in the backing it has received from Black Democrats, an influential force on Capitol Hill and in the party, at an otherwise grim time. On Monday evening, Mr. Biden met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in a private virtual meeting where he called on the group to continue supporting his candidacy, according to a participant in the private meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

During the session, the participant said, Mr. Biden expressed deep gratitude to those who have stood by him throughout pivotal points in his political career, including now, and called on members not to abandon him with the threat of another Donald J. Trump presidency looming.

Over roughly 30 minutes, Mr. Biden laid out how another four years of the Biden administration would uplift and support the Black community and the middle class, highlighting policies to help families with elder care and rising health care costs.

Roughly 40 to 50 members joined the virtual meeting, and a number expressed support for the president, including Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the co-chairman of Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign. According to the participant, no one expressed any doubts about his candidacy.

Mr. Clyburn’s comments to colleagues Monday evening echoed his remarks earlier in the day when he combated calls for the president to resign.

Younger Black lawmakers have been slower to offer their backing for Mr. Biden, staying mostly silent. And the highest-ranking Black Democrat in Congress, Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the minority leader, has stayed quieter. Days after the debate last month, he said Mr. Biden was poised to make a “comeback” after an “underwhelming” performance, and he reiterated on Monday that he was backing the president.

But Mr. Jeffries has done little to tamp down on what appears to be a groundswell of sentiment within his ranks in favor of replacing Mr. Biden at the top of the ticket. He did not speak up during the high-level private meeting on Sunday — which was billed as a listening session — to try to defend the president or rally Democrats around salvaging his candidacy, and he gave no indication to lawmakers about whether he believed Mr. Biden should continue in the race.

Still, Mr. Biden has leaned on his support among Black voters as he seeks to recover from the crisis. He chose a Black church in Philadelphia on Sunday as his backdrop to make the case for staying in the race.

“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve honest to God never been more optimistic about America’s future — if we stick together,” Mr. Biden told the congregation at Mount Airy Church of God in Christ.

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