George Clooney calls on Joe Biden to drop out of presidential race

Via Brandon Drenon and Bernd Debusmann, at the NATO summit, BBC News, Washington

Getty Images George Clooneybeautiful pictures

Clooney says Democrats won’t win in November with Biden

George Clooney has made a blistering call for Joe Biden to drop out of the race for the US presidency, hours after senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi dodged questions about whether he should continue.

The Hollywood actor and prominent Democratic fundraiser said the president has won many battles in his career, “but the only battle he cannot win is the battle against time.”

His comments came after Ms Pelosi, the former House Speaker, joined the growing unease in the party, saying time was “running out” for Mr Biden, 81, to decide whether to continue in the race after a tough debate with Donald Trump.

The president has repeatedly said he is determined to remain the Democratic nominee and defeat Trump, 78, in November.

Clooney wrote in New York Times “It hurts me to say this,” the actor said, but the Joe Biden he met at a fundraising event three weeks ago is not the Biden of 2010. “He’s not even the Joe Biden of 2020,” he added.

“He’s the same guy we all saw in the debate,” Clooney said.

The fundraising event, co-hosted by Clooney in Los Angeles and attended by Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand, raised a record overnight haul of around $30m (£23m) for Biden’s campaign.

The Biden camp hit back at the Hollywood star, with an unnamed source telling US media: “The president stayed for more than three hours. [at the fundraiser]while Clooney quickly took a photo and left.”

The president’s campaign also pointed out that when he attended the fundraiser, he had just arrived in Los Angeles from Italy, where he had attended the G7 summit.

In his commentary, Clooney said: “Our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw.”

“This is about age. There is nothing more to it,” he continued. “We will not win in November with this president.”

Clooney added that his concerns were shared by “every” member of Congress he spoke to.

When asked for a response, Mr Biden’s campaign pointed to a letter the president sent to Democrats in Congress, saying he was “firmly committed” to his candidacy and defeating Mr Trump.

However, public dissent continues to grow within Mr Biden’s party as he faces intense scrutiny as he chairs a NATO summit in Washington.

Nancy Pelosi says decision to continue is up to the president

Ms Pelosi, an influential voice among Democrats on Capitol Hill, appeared unconcerned on Wednesday with Mr Biden’s assertion that he was determined to move forward.

Asked whether he should continue running, she told MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do.

“It’s up to the president to decide whether or not to run. We all encourage him to make that decision, because time is running out.”

Acknowledging the demands on the president during the NATO summit, Ms Pelosi told MSNBC: “I told people – let’s pause.

“Whatever you’re thinking, say it to someone privately, but you don’t have to bring it up until we see how this week goes. But I’m very proud of the president.”

About a dozen elected Democrats have called on him to drop out of the race since his June 27 debate with Trump.

On Tuesday, Colorado’s Michael Bennet became the first Democratic senator to publicly object.

While he did not call for Mr Biden to resign immediately, he said Mr Trump would win the election, possibly in a “thumping victory”.

Pat Ryan, a congressman from New York, later wrote on X: “For the good of the country, for the good of my two young children, I ask Joe Biden to resign.”

And Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters he was “very concerned” about Mr Biden’s ability to win the election.

Biden’s campaign echoed the president’s statement that he will “run this race to the end.”

House Democratic Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries plans to speak with Mr Biden on Friday to discuss concerns raised by some members of the party’s Congress.

However, overall support from elected Democrats remains strong.

Gavin Newsom, the California governor named by Clooney as a possible replacement, said he remained “fully supportive” of Mr Biden.

The Congressional Black Caucus, a group of about 60 politicians, and progressive House members like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have publicly endorsed Mr Biden.

On Tuesday, Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, said, “I’m with Joe.” However, Axios reported that Mr. Schumer has privately told donors that he is ready to reject Mr. Biden.

Questions about Biden’s campaign also arose at the NATO summit in Washington DC.

Starmer meets Biden: Special relationship stronger than ever

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was confident the United States would remain a committed member of the alliance – regardless of who was in the White House next year, Mr Biden or the NATO-skeptic Mr Trump.

At a press conference, the BBC asked Mr Stoltenberg whether all 32 members of the alliance shared his optimism, despite concerns about Mr Biden’s candidacy.

“I’m not saying we can always ignore concerns,” Mr Stoltenberg said. “But the more dangerous the world becomes, the more clearly we see the need for Nato.”

“It is in all of our interests to come together,” he added. “That applies to the United States as well.”

Mr Biden will hold a rare solo press conference on Thursday and will tape an interview with NBC News on Monday, which will air in the evening.

In the swing state of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, Democratic voters interviewed by the BBC had mixed feelings about Mr Biden.

Karren Gillchrist, of Harrisburg, said she remains steadfast in her support for Mr Biden because “he knows exactly what he’s talking about”.

But in Elizabethtown, Melissa Nash, working on her laptop in a coffee shop, said: “I’m torn because I’m not a Trump fan, but at the same time we need a strong person to lead the country.”

Additional reporting from Rebecca Hartmann in Pennsylvania

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