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Lehigh Valley Election News

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild issues concerns about Biden's electability for a 2nd term

Biden 1.jpg
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
U.S. Rep. Susan Wild disembarks from Air Force One with President Joe Biden on Jan. 12, 2024, at Lehigh Valley International Airport. In a conference call with House Democratic leadership on Sunday, July 7, 2024, Wild expressed concerns about Biden's electability following a disastrous debate days before.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — U.S. Rep. Susan Wild aired concerns about President Joe Biden's candidacy for a second term during a conference call Sunday with Democratic House lawmakers.

Biden, the oldest president in American history, has been under increasing pressure to step down from the presidential ticket after a rocky performance at the first debate last month. Biden's speech was halting and mumbling at times, feeding into Republican talking points that he is not fit for another four years in the White House.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., held the call to get a sense of how ranking members felt about Biden remaining at the top of the ticket, according to the reports. While Biden had defenders, several called on him to step down from office, according to multiple media reports.

While Wild didn't expressly call on Biden to get out of the race as some lawmakers did, she did express doubts about his ability to help down-ballot candidates, according to the reports. Wild is the ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee.

Wild represents one of the nation's most competitive districts, and both major parties have made it a top priority to win the district this year in their bids to control the House in 2025. Wild won Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District with less than 51% of the vote in 2022, defeating Republican challenger Lisa Scheller by less than 6,000 votes.

She is currently locked into what's expected to be another tight race with Republican challenger Ryan Mackenzie, a state representative for portions of Lehigh County.

Wild acknowledged the conversation among U.S. House Democrats in a statement Sunday evening.

"In a confidential conversation with other members of the House Democratic leadership, I expressed the same concerns that Americans across the country — and here in my district — are grappling with, about President Biden's electability at the top of the ticket. I expressed these concerns after spending multiple days speaking with my constituents about the importance of this election, when reproductive rights, workers' rights and democracy are all on the ballot," Wild said.

"In the coming days and weeks, I will operate as I always have, continuing to have these important conversations while keeping the best interests of my constituents at the forefront of every decision and statement I make."

The remarks come five days after Wild hosted first lady Jill Biden in Allentown to promote the Biden administration's efforts to strengthen the middle class and Latino families through education and workforce development.

Jill Biden did not take questions from reporters that day, and Wild declined to comment on Biden's performance in the debate, saying, "I'm not here to talk politics today."

Mounting pressure

Joe Biden has repeatedly refused to bow out of the race since his poor debate performance, saying his delivery was the result of taking the stage while sick and overtired from international trips.

But the fallout from Sunday's call is just the latest crack in Biden's candidacy. Pundits and donors immediately began questioning the vitality of the Biden campaign before the debate even ended, and elected Democrats have slowly stepped forward to say Biden needs to leave the ticket.

So far, none of Pennsylvania's federal officials have taken that step. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., who suffered a stroke on the campaign trail and struggled during his debates in 2022, has urged Democrats to calm down and rally behind the president.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., has also defended Biden, though not as vociferously. During a stop in Easton last week, he said voters would continue to back Biden and himself because they recognize former President Donald Trump and his opponent, Republican challenger Dave McCormick, present existential threats to democracy, voters' rights and reproductive rights.

Meanwhile, conservatives have been smelling blood in the water. Trump and others have been questioning Biden's mental faculties for months, pointing to every stumble or stutter as another sign that Biden is unfit for office. Republicans locally and across the country celebrated during the debate, viewing it as validation on prime time television.

Since then, they've been attacking vulnerable Democrats for vouching for Biden and questioning why voters should trust them. Those attacks continued Sunday.

GOP on the attack

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Mike Marinella seized on Wild's unwillingness to call on Biden to leave the ticket.

He noted that Wild has previously spoken in glowing terms about Biden and his mental acuity for the job.

"Everyone can see this is as Susan Wild's election-year ploy to try to cling to her seat. Wild has taken every opportunity to gaslight and lie to Pennsylvanians about the current state of Joe Biden," Marinella said.

"If Wild no longer believes her own words that Joe Biden is 'sharp' and 'competent,' then she must answer the simple question: Is Joe Biden fit to serve as president?"

Mackenzie accused Wild of lying to her constituents, citing a CNN report. CNN reported Wild is among the Democrats saynig Biden should not be the nominee; the Wild campaign has disputed that report.

"Susan Wild is more focused on her own re-election than what is in the best interest of the American people. She can't be trusted to do what's right," Mackenzie said Sunday night in a prepared statement.

"After lying to the public by recently calling Biden 'perfect,' Susan Wild was caught on a DC insider conference call sharing her real opinion: that Joe Biden shouldn't run."