Democrats rushed to stop Joe Manchin from calling for Biden to step aside days after the debate

Senior Democrats scrambled to stop Joe Manchin from publicly calling for Joe Biden to stand down on national television after the president’s dismal debate performance last week.

The West Virginia senator, who filed as an independent after leaving the Democrats in May but still caucuses with the party, voiced growing concerns on whether Biden was fit to continue leading the United States.

Following Biden’s debate disaster against Donald Trump on Thursday, Manchin informed several key allies that he wanted to call for the president to step aside during a pre-scheduled appearance on a national news program on Sunday. Biden blamed his waning cognitive ability on being jet lagged after repeatedly stumbling over his words at the first debate of the 2024 election.

The senator’s plans were scuttled after senior Democrats caught wind of his intentions and began bombarding him with calls as part of a “full-court press” to dissuade him from speaking ill of the president, a source close with the matter told The Washington Post.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Sen Joe Manchin (L) after signing The Inflation Reduction Act (Getty Images)
President Joe Biden shakes hands with Sen Joe Manchin (L) after signing The Inflation Reduction Act (Getty Images)

Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s majority leader, was one of those who discussed the matter with Manchin, a person familiar with the situation told the outlet.

Another source informed on the matter claimed he was due to appear on MSNBC’s The Sunday Show With Jonathan Capehart, according to Politico.

“Joe Manchin talks to lots of people because he wants to get different views and political perspectives,” Manchin’s senior political adviser Jonathan Kott told the Post in a statement.

“When he has something to say, you’ll hear it directly from him, and trust me, there’s nobody that can talk him out of speaking his mind,” he added.

Manchin may have become the first elected official to call for Biden to step aside and let another Democrat run for the ticket if senior party members didn’t intervene. Ultimately, Lloyd Doggett, a representative from Texas, became the first Democrat to break, calling on Biden to take the “painful and difficult decision to withdraw” on Tuesday.

It comes as Democrats remain divided on whether the 81-year-old incumbent president should continue his re-election bid.

“We are deeply concerned about his trajectory and his ability to win. We want to give him space to make a decision [to step aside], but we will be increasingly vocal about our concerns if he doesn’t,” one Democrat told CNN on Wednesday.

Biden is expected to meet with Democratic governors and congressional leaders on Wednesday.