First Democratic senator challenges Biden candidacy

The first Democratic senator has publicly questioned President Joe Biden’s election chances, after seven congressman broke cover and urged the 81-year-old to step aside.

Senator Michael Bennet told CNN he expected the president to lose to Donald Trump by a “landslide”, but stopped short of telling him to end his candidacy.

Questions have been raised about Mr Biden’s fitness for office after a stumbling presidential debate performance against Trump late last month.

The president insists he can beat his adversary, and continues to hold support among key allies after congressional Democrats met to debate his leadership on Tuesday.

The US president is in an even brighter spotlight this week as he hosts a meeting of world leaders for a Nato military summit, with the issue of Ukraine aid on the table.

He is expected to face intense global scrutiny when he delivers a press conference at the meeting in Washington on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking briefly to reporters after Tuesday’s congressional discussions, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer repeated the message: “I’m with Joe.”

Others have emphasised the importance of party solidarity. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight programme, Hank Johnson, a congressman from Georgia, said it was time to “break the circular firing squad” around Mr Biden.

Mr Johnson is a member of the influential Congressional Black Caucus. While admitting Mr Biden had a “horrible” debate with Trump, he said the overwhelming majority of voters of colour wanted him as their candidate.

The caucus – a group of about 60 lawmakers – reportedly backed the president during a call on Monday.



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