Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Democrats are talking about replacing Joe Biden. That wouldn’t be so easy.

By 37ci3 Jun28,2024



President Joe Biden’s speech in Thursday’s first debate drew fire A new round of criticism from Democratsas well as he thinks publicly and privately about whether he will stay at the top of the ticket.

“There’s a sense of shock at the beginning of this debate at how he came out. There’s a sense of shock at how he sounded. He seemed a little distracted,” said David Axelrod, a senior White House official and campaign official for former President Barack Obama. on CNN.

“There’s going to be a debate about whether or not it should continue,” Axelrod added.

Asked by NBC News if the debate had inspired confidence in Biden, one Democratic lawmaker responded: “The best thing I can do to help Joe Biden is pretend I didn’t get your text.”

Democratic officials continue to publicly rally around Biden, who argue that the lackluster performance did not change the primary stakes in the election.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, whose name is often floated as a potential alternative candidate, told reporters in the “spinning room” after the debate that his party “couldn’t be more fully united behind Biden” and that Biden should not step aside.

But private whispers after Thursday’s debate performance suggested Biden had a hoarse voice, spoke softly and sometimes lost his train of thought, something aides tried to deflect midway through the debate by saying he was cold.

In modern times, a national party has never tried to replace its candidate with an opponent because it knows it will fail. The issue came before both sides in 2016, but neither took action.

Party rules make it almost impossible to replace candidates without their consent, let alone replace them smoothly. Doing so would be tantamount to party insiders overturning the primaries when Democratic voters overwhelmingly nominated Biden. He won almost 99% of all delegates.

And at this point, there is no known, serious effort to push him off the top of the ticket.

Still, the Democratic National Committee’s bylaws have some provisions in case the party’s nominee is incompetent or chooses to withdraw, and a coup against Biden at the convention is theoretically possible if the odds are slim. So how will this work?

What if Biden leaves before the convention?

The only plausible scenario for the Democrats to get a new candidate would be if Biden decides to back down, something he has repeatedly vowed to do during other difficult periods of his campaign.

He could have done it while serving the rest of his term in the White House, as Lyndon Johnson did in 1968.

If Biden were to drop before he was officially nominated in August, it would be a free-for-all among Democrats, as there is no mechanism for him or anyone else to appoint a handpicked successor.

A majority of the nearly 4,000 pledged delegates is needed to win the party’s nomination. Biden won 3,900 of them. Under recent reforms, the party’s more than 700 superdelegates — Democratic lawmakers and dignitaries — are allowed to vote only if no one wins a majority of pledged delegates on the first ballot, so their votes could be decisive in a contested convention.

With all of Biden’s rivals failing to win any delegates in the Democratic nomination process, the convention will begin with a virtual clean slate, and the decision will likely come down to the convention delegates pledged to Biden.

Biden would have some influence over the delegates he pledged, but ultimately they can vote however they want, so candidates will likely campaign aggressively to win each delegate.

However, there is one potentially important wrinkle: Democrats plan to officially nominate Biden before the convention in late August. avoid any potential concerns about promt entry In Ohio, a technical quirk complicates things here

Democrats decided to plan a virtual nomination for Biden after Ohio Republicans balked at passing pro forma legislation that would have allowed Biden to be on the ballot despite the convention falling after the state’s deadline. While Republicans passed legislation to change the deadline, Democrats decided to pursue a virtual nomination anyway.

Could the Democrats replace Biden against his will?

There is no evidence that the party will make the change without Biden’s approval. But even so, there is no mechanism for him to replace a nominee before the convention, and certainly no way to anoint his chosen successor.

If a large portion of the Democratic Party loses confidence in Biden, the delegates to the national convention could theoretically defect en masse. Of course, they were elected delegates because of their loyalty to Biden and promised to support him at the convention.

However, unlike many Republican delegates, Democratic delegates are not technically tied to their nominees. DNC rules allow delegates to “reflect in all honesty the sentiments of those who elected them” and allow some leeway.

The party’s charter contains provisions on the replacement of a candidate during a vacancy. The measure is intended to be used in the event of death, resignation or incapacity, not to replace someone who does not wish to resign.

Donna Brazile, acting chair of the DNC after Hillary Clinton’s fall two months before the 2016 election, took such action. wrote in his memoirs.

In his memoirs, published a year later, Brazile wrote that he was “concerned not only about Hillary’s health, but also about her anemic campaign … so lacking in fighting spirit.”

“Perhaps switching candidates was a chance to win this thing, to change the playing field in a way that would unsettle Donald Trump and make him unable to catch up,” he wrote, adding that aides to other candidates had contacted him, including chief of staff to then-Vice President Biden.

But after less than 24 hours of discussion, Brazile realized that without Clinton’s cooperation, the idea was impossible and likely to further divide her party. “I couldn’t bring myself to threaten to replace him,” he wrote.

Current DNC ​​Chair Jaime Harrison is a longtime Biden ally who actually serves at the pleasure of the president. And the national party certainly hasn’t given any indication that there’s anything exactly behind his re-election.

What if Biden withdraws after the convention?

To fill a vacancy on the national ticket, the chairman can call a “special meeting” of the full DNC, which includes about 500 members. On paper, at least, a majority of those present are needed to elect the new presidential and vice presidential candidates. But the process is likely to be smooth and full of behind-the-scenes jockeying and public pressure campaigns.

If a vacancy occurs close to the November election, it could raise constitutional, legal and practical concerns. Among other things, ballots must be printed well in advance of the election and may not be able to be changed in time.

Will Kamala Harris replace Biden?

If Biden were to decline the presidency, Vice President Kamala Harris would automatically become president, but not the Democratic Party nominee. If Biden declines to seek re-election during his time in the White House, he won’t necessarily run.

He may be politically dominant, but party rules do not give the vice president any great mechanical advantage over other candidates.

Biden’s delegates would not automatically go to Harris, and the convention votes separately for the presidential and vice presidential nominees. Therefore, he still needs to win a majority of delegates in congress.

If the top of the ticket is vacated after the convention, it will still need to win a majority vote at a special DNC meeting.

At least under current party rules, that’s all. But the vacancy at the top of the ticket is a dramatic moment that could prompt party leaders to reconsider them in the name of easing the transition. Harris has some close allies in key places at the DNC, including the co-chair of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. But nothing would happen without a fight.



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