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Biden should step down now, says Seattle Dem Rep. Adam Smith in blunt statement

caption: Representative Adam Smith (D-Bellevue)
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Representative Adam Smith (D-Bellevue)
KUOW/Megan Farmer

In a blunt statement released Monday, Washington Democratic Rep. Adam Smith called for President Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 presidential race in light of his "alarming" performance at the debate.

"The stakes are simply too high," Smith wrote in a statement. "Donald Trump and MAGA extremism pose an existential threat to our nation, and we need to be in the strongest possible position to win in this election."

RELATED: 'I'm in this race to the end,' Biden tells campaign staffers

Smith said, "This must happen as soon as possible to give the new ticket the maximum amount of time to make its case to the American people."

Just a few hours after Smith released his statement, Washington Sen. Patty Murray urged Biden to "do more to demonstrate he can campaign strong enough to beat Donald Trump." Her comments were especially noteworthy as, according to Politico, a group of Senators are reportedly planning a meeting to discuss Biden's candidacy.

"I have a deep appreciation and strong respect for Joe, who has led a historic first term as President," she went on in a statement. "Still, we need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate on the campaign trail in the very near future in order for him to convince voters he is up to the job. At this critical time for our country, President Biden must seriously consider the best way to preserve his incredible legacy and secure it for the future."

Other Washington state Democrats — and the state's deep-pocketed donors — must now decide what they believe is their best chance at defeating former President Donald Trump in November: stand by Biden or urge him to step aside and let a new candidate take his place.

Janet Sinegal, wife of former Costco CEO and Democratic donor James Sinegal, told KUOW they were disappointed by Biden’s debate performance but would support him nonetheless.

“We’re very upset that he did not do well,” Sinegal said. "If it’s Biden, we will still support him, but if they decide to make a change, we will still support that also."

The question of whether Biden should stay in the race continues to dominate headlines more than a week after the first presidential debate. Whereas Biden easily held his own four years ago in 2020 (delivering barbs like, “Will you shut up, man?”), he stumbled repeatedly during the June 27 debate.

The Washington State Democratic Party is standing by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, however. In a statement, Party Chair Shasti Conrad noted millions of primary voters have already selected Biden as their nominee.

Conrad wrote: "Over the last week, we’ve seen grassroots organizers, labor, and community leaders unite to show their support for a Biden-Harris ticket – because we know this is how we defeat fascism and continue to build a movement for working families, small businesses, and safer communities.”

Other state Democrats, like Rep. Pramila Jayapal, have tried to redirect attention back at Trump.

“Any reporter or pundit who is asking about or talking about the aftermath of President Biden’s debate performance and his health should also be spending at least the same amount of time and energy talking to Republicans about why they are still supporting a convicted felon who incited an insurrection and wants to be Dictator on Day 1,” Jayapal said in a statement.

“Republicans should be calling for Donald Trump to step down as a candidate for President.”

RELATED: 4 takeaways from the first presidential debate

Jayapal did not directly address whether Biden should remain in the race.

“It is true that Democrats are having many conversations among our members and our constituents as we consider the best path forward to protect our democracy,” she said.

“I am listening carefully to the thoughts of our members from all over the country — in swing and safe states and districts — as we work to ensure we defeat Donald Trump and win the House and Senate.”

Democratic Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, the most recent addition to Washington's congressional delegation, took a much more cynical view of the left's chances at victory in November. She spoke to KATU News in Portland after the presidential debate.

“We all saw what we saw. You can’t undo that. And the truth, I think, is that Biden is going to lose to Trump,” Gluesenkamp Perez said. “I know that’s difficult, but I think the damage has been done by that debate.”

But a spokesperson for Gluesenkamp Perez told Oregon Public Broadcasting that the time to replace Biden with a new candidate has come and gone.

The Democratic National Convention, where the party will officially name its presidential candidate, begins on Aug. 19 in Chicago. According to the DNC's website, "Democrats will rally around Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ nomination for President and Vice President of the United States."

Update, 5:10 p.m. on Monday, 7/8/2024: This story has been updated to include comments from Sen. Patty Murray. It was previously updated to include comments from Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

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