Democratic Party drifting through fugue of indecision and mixed messages over Biden’s future

Pelosi comments capture wait-and-see mood of the party

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, US president Joe Biden and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a group photograph during the Nato 75th anniversary celebrations in Washington, DC, on July 9th, 2024. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images

As world leaders gathered in Washington in a unified message of praise for the strengthening Nato alliance, the Democratic Party continued to drift through a fugue of indecision and mixed messages over the future of US president Joe Biden.

On Tuesday his party colleagues watched on as Biden gave a passionate and convincing address to attendees of the 75th summit at which he presented the presidential medal of freedom to Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg. It represented another small, significant success for the White House as the Biden campaign continues to claw back some of the ground lost after the president’s debate debacle against Donald Trump at the end of June.

But the performance did nothing to ease the perception that the election projections have changed in a way many find alarming. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democratic senator, went public on Tuesday evening with concerns he had previously voiced in private that his party was on course to suffer a historic defeat in November. “It’s true that I said that,” he told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins in an interview which broke from the party line.

“Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election and maybe win it by a landslide and take with him the Senate and the House. So for me this isn’t a question about polling. It’s not a question about politics. It’s a moral question about the future of our country. The White House, in the time since that disastrous debate, I think, has done nothing to really demonstrate that they have a plan to win this election.”


Bennet’s viewpoint undoubtedly reflects the concerns of many congressional and Senate Democrats, but the number of those who have explicitly spoken out remains fewer than a dozen. On Wednesday, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi, considered a Democratic figurehead and moral conscience, captured the uncertain mood which has taken hold of the party.

“It is up to the president to decide if he is going to run. We are all encouraging him to make that decision. I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that’s the way it is. Whatever he decides we go with. I think it is really important that we let him deal with this Nato conference. This is a very big deal. Let’s hold off. Whatever you are thinking, either tell someone privately but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week.”

There was no equivocation from actor George Clooney. The Democrat, who hosted a fundraiser for Biden last month, withdrew his support in an opinion piece penned for the New York Times. He wrote: “We are not going to win in November with this president.”

White House staff could reasonably argue that the one message which Joe Biden has delivered with force and venom is that he is going nowhere. He has been unequivocal in his determination to stay on as the Democratic nominee and it is going to take a lot more than subtle overtures or occasional opinions of dissent to persuade him otherwise.