Pelosi sends signal to Biden: 'Time is running short'

President Joe Biden awards the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Biden awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) in May. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most influential voices in President Biden's sphere outside of his family, sent a rare public signal Wednesday morning that suggested she is trying to nudge him to consider dropping out of the election.

"It's up to the president to decide if he is going to run," she said on MSNBC. "We're all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short."

Pelosi sandwiched her comments between praise for Biden and his record. But Pelosi is notably careful and calculating in her public comments and well aware that Biden has repeatedly and forcefully said he has already made that decision. She spoke on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Biden's favorite cable news show and the same venue where on Monday he gave one of his most defiant declarations that he would remain in the race.

Read more: Amid confusion among Democrats, Pelosi sends a loud message: 'Time is running short'

Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, is no longer in Democratic leadership but remains in the House after one of the most consequential tenures in history. At 84, she is three years older than Biden and served alongside him for most of his political career. She also had the experience of watching close friend Sen. Dianne Feinstein deteriorate before dying in office last year.

Pelosi said Biden would have the "overwhelming support" of House Democrats. "He's beloved, he is respected, and people want him to make that decision."

She also suggested that she would not make a more direct call for him to withdraw.

“I’ve said to everyone, let’s just hold off, whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week,” she said.

The comments preceded a high-profile call to withdraw from a different sort of influencer: George Clooney. The actor, who is a major backer for Democrats, headlined a Hollywood mega-fundraiser for Biden last month.

"The one battle he cannot win is the fight against time," Clooney wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in the New York Times. "None of us can. It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the Joe 'big F— deal' Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.