On Tuesday, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) became the first Democrat in Congress to publicly urge President Joe Biden to step aside as the party’s nominee, following Biden’s shaky debate performance, which has sparked significant concerns about his health, age and mental acuity.

In a statement on Tuesday, Doggett said that Biden should “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

“My decision to make these strong reservations public is not done lightly nor does it in any way diminish my respect for all that President Biden has achieved,” said Doggett. “President Biden saved our democracy by delivering us from Trump in 2020. He must not deliver us to Trump in 2024.”

Doggett, who has represented an Austin-based district for nearly 30 years and is a prominent Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, cited former President Lyndon Johnson, who once represented the same district.

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“Under very different circumstances, he made the painful decision to withdraw,” said Doggett. “President Biden should do the same.”

Doggett said he broke with his party after feeling “alarmed” while watching the debate with his wife at their Washington home. He expressed dismay that Biden did not attempt to debunk many of the falsehoods presented by former President Donald Trump.

Upon returning to his Texas district over the weekend, Doggett reported that feedback was “10 to one in favor of the President withdrawing.”

He cited Monday’s Supreme Court ruling, which granted immunity to Trump‘s “official” presidential actions from criminal prosecution, as “the final straw.”

“It was obvious there would be no check on Trump whatsoever if he is president,” said Doggett, expressing concern that a second Trump term would lead to a “much more authoritative government” – a risk he said the country could not afford.

“We need to go with our strongest candidate, and the public is saying that is not President Biden. I feel that way as well.”

“Recognizing that, unlike Trump, President Biden’s first commitment has always been to our country, not himself, I am hopeful that he will make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw. I respectfully call on him to do so,” concluded Doggett.

While Doggett is the first sitting Democrat lawmaker to publicly call on Biden to withdraw, Biden’s weak and disjointed debate performance has shaken Democratic support to its core. Members at all party levels are now questioning whether he is the strongest candidate to successfully campaign against Trump.

Biden has admitted that Thursday night’s debate was not his best performance but insisted he is ready to continue the fight for a second term in the White House.

When asked on Tuesday about mounting concerns among Democrats regarding Biden’s campaign viability, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre acknowledged the party’s respect for differing opinions, emphasizing, “that’s what makes this party different from the other side.”

As for Doggett, she stated, “He’s going to have his thoughts. That for him to speak to.”

Beyond the White House, control of both chambers of Congress is also at stake in November.  Democrats currently hold a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, while Republicans control the House by only a few seats.

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