New York Times first US paper urging Biden to drop out of presidential race | US elections 2024

The New York Times’s editorial board has called on Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 presidential race after a disastrous debate performance against Donald Trump.

Biden’s poor performance sent leading Democrats into a panic on Thursday night, after the US president appeared shaky and, at points, struggled to finish sentences. It amplified fears about his age and fitness for office that it had been hoped the debate would allay.

Shortly after the debate, senior Democrats including the vice-president, Kamala Harris, acknowledged Biden’s “slow start” but emphasised his “strong finish”, while others privately suggested he should step aside.

In a move that will add further pressure on the White House, the New York Times editorial board said in an opinion piece on Friday that “the greatest public service [Biden] can now perform is to announce that he will not continue to run for re-election”.

“The president appeared on Thursday night as the shadow of a great public servant,” it said. “He struggled to explain what he would accomplish in a second term. He struggled to respond to [Trump’s] provocations. He struggled to hold [Trump] accountable for his lies, his failures and his chilling plans. More than once, he struggled to make it to the end of a sentence.”

“Biden is not the man he was four years ago,” it added.

Earlier in the day, the leading New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman called on his “friend” to step aside. “Joe Biden, a good man and a good president, has no business running for re-election,” he said.

The former US president Barack Obama defended Biden in a social media post on Friday. “Bad debate nights happen,” he said. “But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.”

In a campaign stop in North Carolina on Friday, Biden appeared far more energised and coherent. He acknowledged his widely panned debate performance.

“I don’t walk as easily as I used to, I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to, I don’t debate as well as I used to,” Biden said. “But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth.”

The New York Times has become the first US newspaper to call on Biden to drop out of the race, but other influential publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Atlantic have published op-eds by their leading columnists calling on Biden to step aside. Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said allowing Biden to continue “looks like elder abuse”.

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In 2020, the New York Times jointly endorsed Amy Klobachar and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primary.

Kamala Harris says election ‘will not be decided by one night in June’ – video

In response to the NYT’s call, the Biden campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond told CNN: “The last time Joe Biden lost the New York Times editorial board’s endorsement, it turned out pretty well for him.”

Biden and Trump are neck and neck in national polls for November. A New York Times/Sienna poll published this week before the debate found that Trump had a three-point lead over Biden. In the “battleground” states that are key to winning the White House, Trump is ahead in six out of seven, according to RealClearPolling.

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