Pelosi refuses to say she supports Biden as the Democratic nominee

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks with reporters in the U.S. Capitol about the presidential debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, on Friday, June 28, 2024. 

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday refused to explicitly endorse President Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee, and encouraged her colleagues in Congress to pause from making public statements either for or against Biden.

“Let’s just hold off. Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately, but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see how we go this week,” Pelosi said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

The comments were notable because Biden has repeatedly insisted he will not drop out of the race against former President Donald Trump, and said that his decision is final.

Pelosi’s carefully worded comments suggested that she believes Biden is still deciding whether or not to remain atop the ticket.

“It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run,” Pelosi said. “We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”

Pelosi has long been one of Biden’s closest allies in Congress, so her refusal to support Biden as the nominee — as scores of Democrats already have — sent ripples across the Capitol Wednesday.

Pelosi’s remarks came two weeks into Biden’s wall-to-wall push to prove to Democrats and voters that his halting, feeble debate performance on Jun 27 was just “an episode,” as Pelosi put it last week, and not evidence of “a condition.” So far, Biden’s public outings have done little to quell Democrats’ concerns about his health.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Biden said this week in an interview, also on “Morning Joe.” “I absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024.”

As a result, this week, Biden’s NATO Summit events in Washington come with the added pressure of proving to Democrats that he is fit enough to beat Trump in November and serve a second, four-year term.

The pressure for Biden to deliver redeeming public performances this week come as voices calling on him to drop out get louder.

On Tuesday, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Co., became the first Democratic senator to publicly announce that he does not believe the president can beat Trump, though he did not go so far as to officially call him to exit the race.

On the other side of Capitol Hill, the pressure has been more openly expressed. Also Tuesday, House Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., became the latest in a growing list of House Democrats to officially urge the president to exit the race.

In private meetings and calls, even more Democratic lawmakers, donors and strategists have expressed concerns about Biden’s fitness to mount a grueling campaign and then, should he win in November, to spend another four years in the Oval Office.

In response to Pelosi’s comments, the Biden campaign pointed to a letter the president sent to congressional Democrats on Monday, reiterating his dedication to stay in the race and calling on lawmakers to rally behind him. The campaign also laid out a list of Democratic lawmakers who have made public statements expressing support for Biden.

CNBC’s Josephine Rozzelle contributed to this report.

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