Prominent NYT Columnist Tells Biden To Step Aside: ‘He Is Not Up For This’

Ezra Klein laid out an alternative plan for Democrats on his popular podcast.

Ezra Klein, a prominent liberal columnist for The New York Times, published an audio essay Friday making his case against President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination, saying he should withdraw from the race and allow delegates to pick from a slate of candidates with a better shot at defeating Donald Trump in November.

“We had to wait till this year — till now, really — to see Biden even begin to show what he’d be like on the campaign trail. And what I think we’re seeing is that he is not up for this,” Klein said on his popular semi-weekly podcast, “The Ezra Klein Show.”

You can listen to the episode and read a full transcript of it here.

The possibility Klein lays out is one many loyalist Democrat voters possibly haven’t considered, and his influence shouldn’t be discounted; he has one of the most popular shows on Apple Podcast’s Society & Culture charts, and a 2021 analysis found that among Biden staffers, he was one of the most commonly followed political writers on Twitter, now known as X.

Klein takes time to honor Biden for having a successful first term, applauding him for working the progressive ideas of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) into his policies, passing legislation Democrats have struggled for years to get off the ground and ― despite conservative talking points ― maintaining a strong economy that’s outpacing that of Europe and China.

President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on Friday.
President Joe Biden speaks from the White House on Friday.
Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

“I want to say this clearly: I like Biden. I think he’s been a good president. I think he is a good president,” Klein said on his show. “I don’t like having this conversation. And I know a lot of liberals, a lot of Democrats are going to be furious at me for this show.”

“But here’s the thing,” Klein argued. “I can now point you to moments when he is faltering in his campaign for the presidency because his age is slowing him. This distinction between the job of the presidency and the job of running for the presidency keeps getting muddied, including by Biden himself.”

The episode’s release comes a week after a special counsel report on Biden’s handling of classified documents cleared him of any wrongdoing but made damning comments on his mental acuity, citing his struggles to remember key moments of his presidency and vice presidency. An outraged Biden held a surprise press conference that evening, asking “how in the hell dare” the special counsel claim he’d forgotten the year his son died.

But while addressing claims about his mental fitness and memory, Biden flubbed a reference to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, calling him the president of Mexico. Biden has made similar mix-ups before, Klein noted, and that’s clearly weighing on voters.

“None of these matter much on their own. The human mind just does this,” he said. “But it does it more as you get older. And they do matter collectively.

“Voters believe Biden is too old for the job he seeks. He needs to persuade them otherwise, and he is failing at that task — arguably the central task of his re-election campaign.”

Klein then lays out what he thinks is the best path forward: Former President Barack Obama and other powerful voices in Biden’s inner circle convince him to end his campaign and let delegates at the Democratic National Convention pick from an array of other big names in the party. Klein points to Vice President Kamala Harris as an obvious option but also names several others, given her own low approval ratings.

“There is a ton of talent in the Democratic Party right now: Gretchen Whitmer, Wes Moore, Jared Polis, Gavin Newsom, Raphael Warnock, Josh Shapiro, Cory Booker, Ro Khanna, Pete Buttigieg, Gina Raimondo, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Chris Murphy, Andy Beshear, J.B. Pritzker — the list goes on,” he says.

The concept may seem foreign to modern voters, he writes, but it was commonplace for presidential nominations up until the 1970s, with both Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt winning nominations in similar ways.

Klein admits that the many polls showing a Trump victory over Biden could be proven wrong in November but argues a Biden nomination it’s just not worth the risk.

“There’s an anti-MAGA majority in this country and they will come out to stop Trump. And I think that might be true. I still think Biden might win against Trump, even with all I’ve said,” Klein conceded. “It’s just that there’s a very good chance he might lose. Maybe even better than even odds. And Trump is dangerous. I want better odds than that.”

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