Texas Democrats wrestle with whether to ditch Biden or stick with him

U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett says opposing the candidate is misguided, but another Democrat says, “The debate cannot be unseen.”

WASHINGTON — Texas Democrats in Congress remain split over whether the party should replace President Joe Biden as their 2024 nominee or stick with him in the wake of a disastrous debate performance and questions about whether he can win in November.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin was the first House Democrat to urge Biden to step aside, and he wasn’t budging Tuesday when House Democrats gathered for their first private meeting since Biden’s meandering debate.


“The debate cannot be unseen,” Doggett told reporters as he left the meeting. “The president has been running behind. We needed a surge. We got a setback. He is a great man who has made a great contribution to the country but he shouldn’t leave a legacy that endangers us, that we surrender to a tyrant.”

Political Points

Get the latest politics news from North Texas and beyond.

Or with:

It’s a pivotal time for Biden as he tries to tamp down Democratic fears that he will not just lose his race but will weigh on down-ballot candidates. Several other elected Democrats have followed Doggett’s lead in the days since, but the president has thus far been able to limit Democratic defections.

He has leaned on strong support from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Dallas.


“The stakes are so much higher for us,” Crockett said. “So I don’t want to play around. I want to get to work. I have been crisscrossing the country on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration and talking to people about the policies that Democrats are trying to usher in. And the fact that somebody would change their mind after 90 minutes and ignore the years of progress in the policies is absolutely asinine to me.”

She highlighted Biden’s intention to stay in the race and suggested there’s no viable way to force him out, which means talk of doing so only serves to sow chaos.

Others kept their comments brief after Tuesday’s meeting at the party’s Washington headquarters a few blocks south of the Capitol. It was unclear how many Democrats attended the meeting because there are multiple entrances.


U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth said he spoke during the session, encouraging people to keep sharing their opinions.

Asked whether he was standing by Biden or pushing for him to step aside, Veasey said: “Right now, Biden is the nominee.”

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, who is running against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was asked about Biden’s performance the day after the debate and said he was “still processing” it. He has remained mum about what Biden should do, declining a request for comment Tuesday through an aide.

Many Democrats have tried to put the focus on former President Donald Trump and a Republican agenda that includes restricting abortion rights.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso, one of the national co-chairs for Biden’s campaign, joined a press call Tuesday intended to focus on abortion rights. A reporter asked if Biden missed an opportunity to hammer Trump on abortion during the debate.

Escobar said she’s looking “forward not backward.”

Doggett said Biden can convince elected Democrats that he’s been a great president, but that doesn’t translate to winning electoral votes.

“There are too many people in the battleground states who have not been convinced,” Doggett said. “I’m going to support the nominee of my party. I’d certainly support President Biden, but I think we would be less endangered of a Trump presidency if we had a different candidate.”


U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen said some Democrats and the news media have too quickly turned on the president.

“He stumbled on a 90-minute debate, but that can’t be the judgment to end it all,” Gonzalez said, adding he has spent a lot of time with Biden and the president appeared to be mentally fit.