Indian Prime Minister Modi makes first visit to ally Russia since the start of its war on Ukraine

As Biden campaigns in Pennsylvania, some House Democratic leaders say he should step down

HARRISBURG, Pa.: President Joe Biden urged his supporters to remain united during a series of visits Sunday in sensitive Pennsylvania, even as some top Democrats in Congress privately suggested it was time for him to drop his reelection bid amid growing questions about his fitness to serve another term.
Addressing a lively church service in front of sun-drenched stained-glass windows at Philadelphia’s Mount Airy Church of God in Christ, Biden, 81, joked, “I know I look 40,” but “I’ve been doing this a long time.”
“I have never been more optimistic about the future of America if we stick together,” he said.
There and at a subsequent rally with union members in Harrisburg, Biden delivered brief speeches that touched on familiar themes. But he also left plenty of room for key supporters to discuss their support for him. In this way, the swing in Pennsylvania seemed designed to showcase the president’s support from key political circles, not to prove he could hang on for another four years.
But his party remains deeply divided.
As Congress prepares to resume its session this week, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries convened top committee lawmakers Sunday afternoon to gauge their views. Several Democratic committee leaders, including Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut and Rep. Mark Takano of California, have said privately that Biden should resign, according to two people familiar with the meeting and asked not to be identified to discuss it.
But other top Democrats, including members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus, argued just as forcefully that Biden remains the party’s choice. The conversation was wide-ranging, with committee leaders sharing different views of the situation but no consensus on what to do, the people said.
Biden personally called lawmakers throughout the weekend. He also joined a call with campaign surrogates and reiterated that he has no plans to drop out of the race. Instead, the president pledged to campaign more heavily in the future and increase political travel, according to two people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
One Democrat the president spoke to, Sen. Alex Padilla of California, said he and others were pushing the Biden campaign to “let Joe be Joe, put him out in the public eye.”
“I am absolutely confident that we can turn this around,” Padilla told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, a person familiar with Sen. Mark Warner’s views said there will be no meeting Monday to discuss Biden’s future, as had been discussed previously, and those discussions will instead take place during Tuesday’s regular caucus lunch with all Democratic senators. The person said a private meeting is no longer possible after it was made public that the Virginia Democrat had been in contact with senators about Biden and that various conversations are ongoing among senators.
Five other, different Democratic lawmakers have already publicly called on Biden to abandon his reelection campaign before November. Meeting in person next week means more opportunity for lawmakers to discuss concerns about Biden’s ability to survive the remaining four months of the campaign — not to mention four more years in the White House — and the real prospects of defeating presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Biden’s campaign team has also been calling and texting lawmakers in an attempt to head off potential departures, while increasingly asking influential Biden supporters to speak out on his behalf.
However, calls to withdraw came from various quarters.
Alan Clendenin, a Tampa city councilman and Democratic National Committee member, on Sunday called on Biden to “step aside and let Vice President Kamala Harris pursue her agenda as our Democratic nominee.” Director Rob Reiner, who has helped organize Biden’s glitzy Hollywood fundraisers in the past, posted on X: “It’s time for Joe Biden to step aside.”
The Democratic convention is fast approaching, and Biden’s interview with ABC on Friday left some skeptics unconvinced.
Democratic fundraiser Barry Goodman, a Michigan lawyer, said he supports Biden but would endorse Harris if he conceded. That’s notable because Goodman also served as finance co-chair for both of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state campaigns, which have also been mentioned as a top alternative.
“We don’t have much time,” Goodman said. “I don’t think the president will come out. But if he does, I think it will be Kamala.”
There was no such suggestion in Mount Airy, where the Rev. Louis Felton compared the president to Joseph and the biblical story of his “coat of many colors.” In it, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers, only to eventually gain a high position in Pharaoh’s kingdom and have his brothers plead for help without initially recognizing him.
“Don’t ever write Joseph off,” Felton pleaded. Then, referring to Democrats who have called on Biden to step aside, he added: “This is what’s happening, Mr. President. People envy you. They envy your perseverance. They envy your favor. They envy the hand of God on your life.”
Felton also led a prayer in which he said, “Our president is discouraged. But today, by Your holy spirit, renew his mind, renew his spirit, renew his body.”
After the church service, Biden visited his campaign office in Philadelphia, where Senator John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania Democrat who won a close 2022 election while recovering from a stroke, gave him a strong endorsement.
“Only one guy has ever beaten Trump,” Fetterman said. “And he’ll do it twice and beat him once and for all.”
Later, as he stepped off Air Force One in Harrisburg, the president was asked if the Democratic Party supported him, and he replied emphatically, “Yes.”
Joining him at the union event, Rep. Madeleine Dean, also a Pennsylvania Democrat, said that “democracy is at stake. There’s one man who understands that, and that’s Joe Biden.”
Isabel Afonso, who saw Biden speak in Harrisburg, said she was concerned when she saw the president’s debate performance but doesn’t think he should drop out of the race and that he can still win. “I know he’s old, but I know if something happens to him, a reasonable person will replace him,” Afonso, 63, said.
At the same event, 73-year-old James Johnson said he knows what it’s like to forget things as you get older, but he called Biden a “fighter.” He said replacing the president at the top of the Democratic ticket would only cause confusion.
“I’m talking about lifelong Democrats and people who have been in the Democratic Party for a long time,” Johnson said. “They might just decide to jump ship over this.”
Others, however, are not fully convinced.
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut told CNN that Biden “needs to answer voters’ questions,” adding: “If he does that this week, I think he’ll be in a very good position.”
Biden has rejected the possibility of taking independent cognitive tests, arguing that the daily rigors of the presidency were ample evidence of his mental acuity. But California Democratic congressman Adam Schiff told NBC on Sunday that he would be “happy if both the president and Donald Trump took a cognitive test.”
Like some Democrats, Schiff also seized on Biden’s suggestion in an ABC interview that losing to Trump would be acceptable “as long as I give it my all.”
“It’s not just about whether he gave his all in college,” Schiff said, “but rather whether he made the right decision in running or passing the torch.”

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