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    Sunday, July 21, 2024

    State’s Democratic leaders largely supportive of Biden’s staying the course

    In the hours after President Joe Biden vowed Monday to keep running for reelection, members of Connecticut’s all-Democratic congressional delegation and other party leaders issued declarations of support.

    Some of the statements were less than robust.

    “Stopping Donald Trump from regaining the White House ― which his chairman of the Joint Chiefs, defense secretary, national security advisor, vice president, and countless others have said would be a threat to democracy and security ― is the top priority in 2024,” Rep. Joe Courtney, whose 2nd District encompasses eastern Connecticut, said in an email. “I will support the most pragmatic and effective path to achieving that goal.”

    Courtney was referring to Trump Cabinet members Mark Milley, Mark Esper, John Bolton and Mike Pence, Courtney’s communications director, Sam Varie, confirmed.

    In a letter Monday to congressional Democrats, Biden addressed the fallout from his lackluster performance in a June 27 presidential debate against Trump. Biden’s halting, confused delivery prompted calls for him to step aside, calls he has steadfastly dismissed.

    “I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump,” Biden wrote.

    Citing sources it didn’t name, The Associated Press reported late Sunday that Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut’s 4th District, which encompasses the southwestern corner of the state, was among a handful of Democratic representatives who privately said Biden should step aside.

    Himes’ office did not respond Monday when asked to confirm the report or otherwise comment on Biden’s candidacy.

    It wasn’t readily apparent where Connecticut’s three other representatives stood.

    “At this time, Congresswoman Hayes is not making any public comments related to the President’s debate performance or reelection campaign,” Corey Bowen, press secretary for Rep. Jahana Hayes of the 5th District, the northwestern part of the state, wrote in an email.

    Spokesmen for Rep. John Larson of the 1st District, encompassing north-central Connecticut, and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of the New Haven-based 3rd District, did not respond to requests for comment.

    Connecticut’s senators are behind Biden’s decision to stay in the race.

    “I’m on my way to DC ... where I’ll be continuing conversations with colleagues,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement. “I’ve received President Biden’s letter designed to address concerns, along with other ongoing campaign activities. As the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden has my support. The election will be about the four years ahead, not a single night of debate, and voters want a president who is fighting for them and our values, not working for himself.”

    “The contrast couldn't be clearer, and will be even more so in the days and weeks ahead," he said.

    Ally Livingston, a spokeswoman for Sen. Chris Murphy, said Murphy had nothing to add to comments he made Sunday during a CNN appearance in which he highlighted the threat he believes Trump poses to democracy and reaffirmed his support for Biden.

    Murphy said the president needs to do more in coming weeks to restore voters’ confidence in him.

    “I think that he's got to go out there this week and show the American public that he is still that Joe Biden that they have come to know and love,” he said. “I take him at his word. I believe that he can do it, but I think that this is a really critical week. I do think the clock is ticking.”

    Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Connecticut, said democracy’s fate is the election’s overriding issue.

    “Joe Biden had a disappointing debate performance; Donald Trump’s was far worse,” DiNardo said in a statement. “He lied in every single answer, and refused to answer critical questions including whether he would accept the outcome of the election. Meanwhile the Supreme Court is issuing decisions that could end democracy as we’ve known it for nearly 250 years. Democracy at every level of government is on the ballot.

    "Joe Biden has been chosen by Connecticut Democrats for a second term, and he’s still our candidate,” she said.

    State Sen. Martha Marx, a New London Democrat, said the focus should be on Trump, not Biden. A registered nurse, Marx wishes both Biden and Trump would submit to cognitive examinations.

    “I administer them all the time,” she said. “It takes four to five minutes and gives you a basic score. If you had chest pain, you’d take a cardiovascular exam, and if you had trouble breathing, you’d take a pulmonary test. I have a difficult time understanding why the candidates won’t have one.”

    “When I go to sleep at night, I worry more about democracy than the cognitive function of Joe Biden,” she added.

    Norwich Alderman Swaranjit Singh Khalsa, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, which will take place Aug. 19-22 in Chicago, said Connecticut’s Democratic delegates have endorsed Biden for their party’s presidential nomination and are bound to vote for him “if he wants to run.”

    “I personally think it’s for medical experts to decide.” he said. “If they think he’s fine, that’s it.”

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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