Vermont’s Peter Welch becomes first Democratic senator to call for Biden to step aside

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/File

Vermont Sen. Peter Welch on Wednesday became the first Democratic senator to call on President Joe Biden to step aside as the party’s presidential nominee.

“The stakes could not be higher. We cannot unsee President Biden’s disastrous debate performance. We cannot ignore or dismiss the valid questions raised since that night,” Welch said in a Washington Post op-ed that noted his “great respect” for the president.

“I understand why President Biden wants to run. He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again,” Welch continued. “But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not. For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race.”

Welch called Vice President Kamala Harris “a capable, proven leader” and said the party has “other electable, young, energizing Democratic governors and senators in swing states.”

The Vermont Democrat’s comments make him the 10th congressional Democrat to call on Biden to step aside, with the rest so far being his former colleagues in the House. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet on Tuesday became the first Democratic senator to publicly say he doesn’t believe Biden is capable of winning reelection, but he stopped short of calling for Biden to withdraw.

“Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House,” Bennet told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.

Other senators — Montana’s Jon Tester and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, who are the two most vulnerable incumbents facing reelection — raised similar concerns about Biden’s ability to win in a Tuesday Senate Democratic lunch, CNN previously reported.

Welch is from a deep blue state, which he alluded to in his op-ed. “Vermont loves Joe Biden,” Welch wrote. “President Biden and Vice President Harris received a larger vote percentage here than in any other state. But regular Vermonters are worried that he can’t win this time, and they’re terrified of another Trump presidency.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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