Scott Howell, the former Utah Senate minority leader and a Biden-Harris surrogate in Utah, said Democrats must evaluate which candidate has the best chance of defeating former President Donald Trump. If that person is not Joe Biden, the president should suspend his campaign.

“If (Biden) has the capabilities, he ought to run,” Howell said. “I love Joe. But if he’s not up to the rigors of the job, then he should go enjoy a well-deserved retirement.”

Howell’s comments echo a growing sentiment among Democrats who fear that Biden’s age and mental competency may prevent him from successfully running for reelection. During a debate last Thursday, Biden looked feeble and at times incoherent, and his performance was followed by a dip in the polls.

Biden may share the same concerns. The president has told advisers that he is weighing whether or not he should continue his campaign for president, The New York Times and CNN reported Wednesday morning.

A “key ally” to the president told the Times that Biden believes his campaign may not be salvageable unless he delivers strong performances at his public events this weekend: an interview on ABC with George Stephanopoulos, and a pair of campaign events in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“He knows if he has two more events like (the debate), we’re in a different place” by the end of the weekend, the ally told the Times.

A person close to the president told CNN that Biden is “clear-eyed” about the state of his campaign.

After messy debate, voters want Biden replaced on Dem ticket

“The polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly. He’s not oblivious,” the person said.

The reports come as uncertainty about Biden’s ability to defeat Trump is mounting among Democrats. Several House Democrats, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have cast doubts on Biden’s capacity, and one House member went as far as to call on Biden to drop out.

Pelosi expressed her support for Biden’s candidacy, but questioned his fitness: “I think it’s a legitimate question to say is this an episode or is this a condition,” Pelosi said of Biden’s and Trump’s debate performances.

Democratic governors are concerned, too. On Monday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, held a call with other governors to discuss Biden’s debate performance and ask for an audience with the president. Biden will meet with the governors — including Walz, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul — on Wednesday evening.

“They’d like to hear from him directly before going and sticking out their necks for him again,” one of the people familiar with the plan told CBS News.

Several Democratic governors have been floated as potential candidates, should Biden decide to step down. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is among them, though in the days since the debate, she has privately expressed her support for the Biden campaign.

Polls show who voters would pick to replace Biden

In a CNN/SSRS poll conducted last week, the top names as potential Biden replacements each trail Trump. While Trump has a six-percentage-point advantage on Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris trails by two percentage points; Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg trails by four; and Newsom and Whitmer trail by five.

When a February Deseret News/HarrisX poll asked voters who they would like to be the nominee should Biden step down, Harris and Michelle Obama, the former first lady, were the top two responses.


But Biden has expressed no interest publicly in stepping down, and while today’s reporting from CNN and the Times notes that Biden is clear-eyed about the state of his campaign, the president has surrounded himself with aides and family members who are encouraging him to stay in the race. After Thursday’s debate, Biden retreated to Camp David with top aides and family members, who “argued that he could still show the country that he remains capable of serving for another four years,” the Times reported.

In the days since, Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has joined meetings with top White House aides, a move that has baffled some of the president’s top staff.

Meanwhile, Trump has remained relatively quiet since the debate. He has held no public events since, and when asked about Biden’s situation, Trump has been tepid.

“If you listen to the professionals that do this stuff, they say it’s very hard for anybody else to come into the race,” Trump said Monday on a Richmond, Virginia, radio station. “I’m gonna show up and, you know, I’m gonna campaign, whether it’s him (Biden) or somebody else.”

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