Democrat Adam Schiff says Biden has to win ‘overwhelmingly’ or ‘pass the torch’

Joe Biden hit the campaign trail in the swing state of Pennsylvania on Sunday as he tried to weather his campaign crisis after a bad debate against Donald Trump – even as a prominent House Democrat said Vice-President Kamala Harris could beat Trump and the president should “pass the torch” to someone else if he can’t win “overwhelmingly”.

Schiff, a high-profile House Democrat who is likely to become California’s next senator in the November election, said he thought Harris could decisively win the election against presumptive Republican party nominee Trump, if Biden drops out.

He warned that the US president either “has to win overwhelmingly, or he has to pass the torch to someone who can”.

The concerns voiced by such a respected congressman in the party came as the Democrat House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, planned to convene an unusual Sunday meeting online with some House Democrats to discuss Biden’s candidacy, according to multiple reports.

Jeffries will meet with the ranking members on committees in the House, which is currently controlled by Republicans, the New York Times reported.

As the chaos continues, Biden was on a two-stop swing in Pennsylvania on Sunday, speaking at a church in a majority Black neighborhood in north-western Philadelphia in the morning then planning to go to the state capital of Harrisburg about 100 miles away.

Meanwhile US Senator Mark Warner, another prominent Democrat, representing Virginia, reportedly is wrangling Senate Democrats to ask Biden at the White House on Monday to step down as the presumptive nominee for re-election. This after the president’s stumbling debate performance against Trump last month threw the campaign into crisis, with fresh doubts adding to months of growing concern about Biden’s age not quelled by his stronger but underwhelming performance in an interview with ABC TV two days ago.

On Sunday morning, Schiff told NBC News’s Meet the Press show: “The interview didn’t put concerns to rest. No single interview is going to do that. And what I do think the president needs to decide is, can he put those concerns aside? Can he demonstrate the American people that what happened on the debate stage was an aberration?”

Schiff then weighted Vice-President Kamala Harris’s prospects if she became the party nominee not Biden, as her profile rises fast.

“I think she very well could win overwhelmingly, but before we get into a decision about who else it should be, the president needs to make a decision about whether it’s him.”

Not long after, Biden was introduced by hosts at the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia as “our honored guest” as a vocalist in the gospel choir said: “Let’s give a hand for our president” and the a pastor told the congregation that if they stand together “there is no election that we cannot win” adding “We love our president. We pray for our president.”

It was Biden’s tenth visit to the crucial state that voted for him in 2020 and he was appearing as part of what his aides have billed as a “voter outreach blitz”.

One demonstrator outside the church underlined the conflicting views within the party and even normally-loyal Democratic voters, carrying a sign that read: “Thank you Joe, but time to go.”

Bernie Sanders, the independent US Senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, signaled his continued support for Biden.

He told CBS in a Sunday interview: “What we are talking about now is not a Grammy award contest for best singer. Biden is old. He’s not as articulate as he once was. I wish he could jump up the steps on Air Force One – he can’t,” Sanders admitted, while adding a challenge to the president to continue to run on policies that help working class voters.

“Whose policies will benefit the vast majority of the people in this country, who has the guts to take on corporate America?” Sanders asked, saying the Democratic nominee needed to fight for health insurance coverage, selectively higher taxes and benefits.

“Those are the issues he’s talked about. He’s got to bring them up in the fall. He’s got to promise the American people that if they give him a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, re-elect him, he’s going to do that in the first 100 days. That’s what I think the American people want,” Sanders said.

And Democratic US senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut declined to say whether he thought Biden should drop out of the election race, but said “the clock is ticking” for the president to quell doubts about his fitness to continue to serve and this was a critical week for him.

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