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Oregon U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer calls on Biden to abandon reelection bid

File photo of President Biden greeting Oregon lawmakers
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
FILE: At Portland International Airport on April 21, 2022, President Joe Biden meets with some of Oregon's congressional delegation. Pictured from left to right with Biden center: Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Earl Blumenauer and Rep. Kurt Schrader

Blumenauer, who retires this year, is the first Democrat in Oregon’s congressional delegation to publicly state that the president shouldn’t run. U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley also released a new statement citing ‘serious concerns.’

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Wednesday added his name to a growing list of congressional Democrats calling on President Joe Biden to abandon his reelection bid, characterizing the president’s continued candidacy as a potential threat to democracy.

“While this is a decision for the president and the first lady, I hope they will come to the conclusion that I and others have: President Biden should not be the Democratic presidential nominee,” Blumenauer, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the year, said in a statement. “It is a painful and difficult conclusion but there is no question in my mind that we will all be better served if the president steps aside as the Democratic nominee and manages a transition under his terms.”

Blumenauer is the first Democrat in Oregon’s Congressional delegation to call on Biden to step out of the race following a poor debate performance last month that left many in the party questioning the 81-year-old president’s ability to defeat former President Donald Trump in November.

“The question before the country is whether the president should continue his candidacy for reelection,” Blumenauer, 75, said in the statement. “This is not just about extending his presidency but protecting democracy.”

At the same time, Blumenauer was effusive about Biden’s first term in office, saying he “will be recorded in history as the most successful president in the last 50 years.”

Biden has insisted he will remain in the race, painting himself as the most viable person to best the 78-year-old Trump. But more and more Democrats have concluded he is no longer a strong candidate.

Besides Blumenauer, at least eight other congressional Democrats have called on Biden to exit the race, according to a tally from CBS News. Others, like first-term U.S. Rep. Marie Glusenkamp Perez of southwest Washington, say Biden can’t win in the general election.

Blumenauer, Oregon’s longest-tenured congressman, is taking on comparatively little political risk for stating his views. He will depart Congress at the end of this year after nearly three decades.

Other high-profile Oregon Democrats have had kind words for Biden since the June 27 debate forced a conversation about the president’s mental acuity.

“President Biden said he had a bad night, but I’m proud of the results that Democrats and I have delivered with him the last four years here in Oregon and nationwide,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement to OPB. “Voters in our state and America fired Donald Trump with cause in 2020 and they’re not going to rehire him in 2024.”

Inquiries to the remaining Democrats in Oregon’s congressional delegation were not immediately returned Wednesday. Springfield Democrat Val Hoyle told KLCC on Friday that she is "proud" to vote for "the Biden/Harris ticket."

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkleyechoed Blumenauer’s effusive statement about Biden’s “historic successes.” He said the Democratic nomination “rests in Biden’s hands and his alone” but said there are significant concerns that “merit serious consideration.”

“He either has to demonstrate his ability to lead the ticket by engaging with voters in unscripted settings and laying out a powerful agenda,” Merkley said in a statement to OPB, “or, he needs to step down and facilitate a transition to sustain the values and programs he’s championed.”

Gov. Tina Kotek sat in on a private meeting between Biden and Democratic governors from across the country last week, attending remotely. Kotek voiced unequivocal support for the president afterward.

“My job is to protect Oregonians and ensure a better future for the people of our state,” she said in a statement. “For me, that means electing Joe Biden for another term.”

OPB’s Bryce Dole contributed to this report.

Copyright 2024 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for KLCC. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.
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