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As Biden digs in, fellow Democrats face a dilemma By Reuters

By Stephanie Kelly and Nandita Bose

(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden has defiantly rejected calls that he step aside from the presidential race against Republican opponent Donald Trump, presenting a challenge to fellow Democrats who are concerned his age will dissuade voters.

“I am running and gonna win again,” Biden, 81, told supporters in a fiery speech in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday. He then taped an ABC News interview in which he argued he is the best Democratic candidate to prevent Trump, who is 78, from regaining the White House in the Nov. 5 election and that only the “Lord Almighty” could convince him otherwise.

Biden faces an uprising within his own party to end his campaign after the shaky and halting debate performance against Trump on June 27, which includes donors, lawmakers, some Democratic officials and strategists. The events on Friday, particularly the much-anticipated ABC interview, seemed to do little to temper some Democrats’ concerns.

In the coming days party members could decide whether to back the president or move swiftly to push him aside and risk retribution from the White House if Biden refuses.

U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has scheduled a virtual meeting on Sunday with senior House Democrats to discuss Biden’s candidacy and the path forward, NBC News reported.

Some Democratic House lawmakers are circulating two separate letters calling for Biden to step aside, House Democratic sources have said. Many of those lawmakers had been waiting to see the ABC News interview before moving forward.

Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota on Saturday, in a posting on X, became the fifth House Democrat to call for Biden “to step aside for the next generation of leadership.”

Some polls show Trump’s lead over Biden widening, and Democrats worry concerns about the president could weigh on down-ballot races. Senator Mark Warner from Virginia is planning a meeting on Monday to discuss Biden’s candidacy.

But Biden registered his best showing yet in a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult tracking poll of battleground states, with Trump leading Biden by only 2 percentage points, 47% to 45%, in the critical states needed to win the November election.

Biden will spend Saturday at his home in Wilmington, Delaware, with no public events on his schedule, although he often attends an evening church service. Sunday will be a busy day for him, with two Pennsylvania campaign events in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

One bright spot for Biden came early Saturday, when the Palestinian militant group Hamas accepted a U.S. proposal to begin talks on releasing Israeli hostages, including soldiers and men, a move that could pave the way for a ceasefire to end the nine-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Vice President Kamala Harris, believed to be the top choice to replace Biden if he were to step aside as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer, will speak in New Orleans at the Essence Festival of Culture, an annual culture and music festival sponsored by Essence magazine, which caters to Black women.

Harris on Friday posted a supportive note on X after Biden’s rally in Madison, saying the president had devoted his life to fighting for Americans. “In this moment, I know all of us are ready to fight for him,” she said.

Margaret Washa, 75, a retired physical therapist from Middleton, Wisconsin, saw Biden at the Madison rally and thought he looked more vigorous, but grew dismayed after watching the interview.

“It’s starting to be about him and whether he can do it, and rather than about what’s best for our nation, and about turning over leadership to the next generation,” she said. “It’s time to pass the baton. There are so many good, strong, younger, intelligent, more charismatic Democrats out there.”




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