George Clooney withdraws his support for Biden’s campaign – can the end be far away?

US President Joe Biden must decide quickly whether to stay in the 2024 White House race, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said while declining to say definitively that she wanted him to run.

Jul 11, 2024, updated Jul 11, 2024
President Joe Biden at a fundraising dinner with actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts and former President Barack Obama. Clooney has withdrawn his support of the Biden campaign. (Image: ABC)

President Joe Biden at a fundraising dinner with actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts and former President Barack Obama. Clooney has withdrawn his support of the Biden campaign. (Image: ABC)

In an opinion piece published on Wednesday in the New York Times, Hollywood star George Clooney, a Democrat who co-hosted a fundraiser for Biden last month, withdrew his support.

Pelosi’s remarks, which ignored Biden’s repeated insistence that he remains in the race, suggested he could face a fresh wave of doubts from fellow Democrats.

For nearly two weeks the 81-year-old Biden has sought to stem defections by Democratic lawmakers, donors and other allies worried he might lose the November 5 vote to Republican Donald Trump, 78, after Biden’s halting June 27 debate performance.

The president has said again and again that he will be the Democratic candidate and that he believes he can beat Trump.

Pelosi said on MSNBC she was encouraging her colleagues on Capitol Hill with concerns about Biden to refrain from airing them while he hosts NATO leaders in Washington DC this week.

“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, describing Biden’s strong remarks at the NATO summit on Tuesday as “spectacular”.

She declined to say definitively that she wanted Biden to run.

“I want him to do whatever he decides to do,” she said.

“We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”

Asked to respond, Biden’s campaign referred to a letter Biden sent Democrats in Congress that said he was “firmly committed” to staying in the race and beating Trump.

It also noted Pelosi’s remark on Tuesday that she had “always been committed” to Biden.

Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal echoed Pelosi’s message later on Wednesday, saying he was “deeply concerned” about Biden’s ability to win the race.

In his opinion piece, Clooney wrote: “It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate,” Clooney wrote.

“We are not going to win in November with this president. On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate.”

Often described as an “ATM for Democrats,” Hollywood has traditionally been a significant source of donations for the party.

Clooney’s event, hosted with actor Julia Roberts, raised more than $US30 million ($A44 million) in what the Biden campaign said was the largest Democratic fundraiser in history.

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After Biden’s debate performance, several Hollywood donors called on the president to end his campaign.

Biden was greeted with raucous applause when he met with a group of labour leaders, an important part of his political base, on Wednesday, joining an AFL-CIO executive council meeting in Washington DC to discuss “their shared commitment to defeating Donald Trump,” the Biden campaign said.

At the meeting, Biden listed high rents, expensive grocery prices and a lack of housing as issues to be tackled going forward.

There is “a whole range of things we’re going to get done with your help in a second term,” Biden said.

“We’re better positioned than any country in the world to own the remainder of the 21st century because of union labour.”

Democrats in Congress remain deeply divided over whether to fall in line behind Biden or to urge him to step aside because of persistent questions about his health and acuity.

Biden has said he is fit to serve but understands the questions.

Some have expressed concern that Biden continuing at the top of the ticket could cost the party the White House and both houses of Congress in November.

But public defections remain a small segment of the 213 Democratic-aligned House members, and the party’s leadership continues to back Biden publicly.

No members of the Senate have publicly said Biden should stand aside although Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado said on Tuesday he did not believe Biden could beat Trump.

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