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Quigley becomes first top Illinois Democrat to call on Biden to step aside for a stronger candidate

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, from left, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., greet President Joe Biden, who is standing in front of then Mayor Lori Lightfoot at O’Hare International Airport in 2021.
Susan Walsh
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AP Photos
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, from left, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., greet President Joe Biden, who is standing in front of then Mayor Lori Lightfoot at O’Hare International Airport in 2021.

The Illinois congressman called on Biden to drop out of the presidential race in an interview on MSNBC Friday, hours before ABC aired an interview with Biden widely viewed as a litmus test for the president a week after his damaging debate performance.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley on Friday urged President Joe Biden to “step down and let someone else” lead the presidential ticket, joining a chorus of Democrats publicly declaring that Biden should leave the race.

Quigley is the first high-profile Illinois Democrat to argue that Biden no longer should be the party’s presidential nominee. His comments came after Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey became the first Democratic governor to call for Biden to exit the race.

“Mr. President, your legacy is set. We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude,” Quigley, D-Ill. said. “The only thing that you can do now to cement that for all time and prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this.”

The Chicago Democrat made the comment on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” hours before ABC aired an interview with Biden. The interview with George Stephanopoulos was widely viewed as a litmus test for the president a week after his damaging debate performance prompted calls for him to exit the race.

Asked by Stephanopoulos whether he had the mental and physical capacity to lead the country for four more years, Biden replied: “I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I did.”

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden gesture to supporters at a campaign rally on June 28 in Raleigh, North Carolina the day after a damaging debate performance.
Allison Joyce
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Getty
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden gesture to supporters at a campaign rally on June 28 in Raleigh, North Carolina the day after a damaging debate performance.

Quigley told CNN’s Kasie Hunt on Tuesday that the debate “wasn’t just a horrible night” and warned that Biden’s performance could impact down-ballot races.

Three days later, Quigley joined the slowly growing group of Democrats calling on Biden to make room for a stronger candidate.

“I think what takes a spine is to step aside and recognize the president of the United States doesn’t have the vigor necessary to overcome the deficit here, and it’s going to affect us all,” Quigley said in a Friday interview on CNN.

“At this point in time, you know, polling I’ve seen in some of those frontline races, is those local candidates are doing better than — outperforming — the president of the United States. That’s not a formula for winning.”

A white man wearing a dark gray suit and black tie speaks and gestures with his left hand in front of a pair of microphones
Mandel Ngan-Pool
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Getty Images
Rep. Mike Quigley speaks in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC., in 2022.

Texas U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett on Tuesday became the first Democratic lawmaker to call for Biden to step down, saying the president should “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

The Washington Post reported Friday that U.S. Sen Mark Warner, D-Va., is working to gather a group of senators to ask Biden to drop out of the race.

Healey made her decision two days after the Massachusetts Democrat sat down with Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in a White House meeting with Democratic governors. Biden told the 23 governors he has no plans to drop out and downplayed poor poll numbers.

“The best way forward right now is a decision for the President to make,” Healey said in a statement on Friday. “Over the coming days, I urge him to listen to the American people and carefully evaluate whether he remains our best hope to defeat Donald Trump.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was also one of the nine governors who attended the White House meeting in person with Healey. Pritzker, a key Biden campaign surrogate, did not post a statement of support for Biden on social media after the meeting. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, both seen as potential replacements for Biden should he leave the ticket, both sent out statements of support.

Pritzker on Tuesday urged Biden to communicate with the nation — but sidestepped questions about whether he could potentially take Biden’s place.

“Look, right now, Joe Biden is our nominee and I’m 100% on board with supporting him as our nominee unless he makes some other decision,” Pritzker said.

Tina Sfondeles is the chief political reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times
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