Beware Biden White House: Don’t Assume Democratic Delegates Are Locked In

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In the two weeks since President Biden’s “Emperor’s Not So New Clothes” debate, there has been a concerted movement within some Democratic power centers—donors, the media, swing congressional candidates—to convince the incumbent president to abandon his reelection efforts and allow the Democratic convention to choose a new nominee.

So far, he insists that he will run.

Many on Capitol Hill remain publicly in his camp: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has sidestepped all questions by declaring, “I’m with Joe” — and South Carolina Democrat Rep. Jim Clyburn (the man who saved Biden’s faltering 2020 bid) has simply said, “I’m with Biden.”

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But many others remain clearly skeptical about his chances in November. On Tuesday night, Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said he was likely to lose decisively to Trump. And on Wednesday morning — despite Biden’s letter saying he had firmly decided to remain a candidate — House Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, kept up the pressure, saying Biden had to make a decision.

She certainly seemed to have determined what that decision should be.

But is there really anything that Democratic skeptics – and there are many – donors, candidates in close races and the left-wing media – can do to force him off the ticket?

Many point to August 1974, when former Republican presidential candidate Berry Goldwater, then a senator from Arizona, led a team to the White House to convince President Richard Nixon to resign.

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Public opinion felt that Nixon had listened to the old statesman and decided that this was what was best for him and the nation.

In fact, the message Goldwater delivered – subtly – was not. Nixon knew he was about to be impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives – but thought he had a chance of surviving a Senate trial and remaining in office. Goldwater told him that in fact many Republicans would vote to convict him and that Nixon was certain to be removed from office by the Senate.

JOE BIDEN AND THE GHOST OF LBJ

Do Democratic elites – who clearly seem to want President Biden out – have something similar to threaten?

In fact, it is.

Under Democratic Party rules, pledged delegates are required to vote based on the support of primary and caucus voters who send them to the party’s convention in Chicago in August.

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But the Democratic Party has a Rules Committee that can recommend new rules for a vote by the Democratic National Committee – and convention delegates.

There have been infighting in the past to settle party rules. For example, the ABM (Anybody but George McGovern) movement in 1972, the ABC (Anybody but Jimmy Carter) movement in 1976, and a pro-Teddy Kennedy movement to get rid of incumbent President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

The reality is that the Party has mechanisms to change its rules and decide to go in a different direction than the one the delegates were “committed” to by the Party rules.

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Democratic elites wield considerable influence. In 2020, they were the ones who chose Biden as their candidate – about whom they were highly skeptical – after his surprising performance in South Carolina. A 78-year-old former vice president, who had been rejected at least three times before and who had no discernible base within the party – but who seemed to be the best option for the November election.

It is too early to tell whether the elites will play this game – but the White House should not assume that it can force Biden into office.

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