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Prominent Never Trumpers Set to Meet With Biden Campaign
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Prominent Never Trumpers Set to Meet With Biden Campaign

Several members of the group will argue on Monday the president needs to step aside.

President Joe Biden at the CNN Presidential Debate in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 27, 2024. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A group of prominent conservative and ex-Republican opponents of Donald Trump is set to meet with senior Biden campaign officials in Washington on Monday, just days after a televised presidential debate raised serious questions among many of the president’s supporters about whether Joe Biden should continue his campaign for reelection.

Five people familiar with the meeting confirmed to Dispatch Politics that the gathering was planned before Biden’s disastrous performance on Thursday night. However, multiple members of the group will tell the campaign that the president should drop out of his race against Trump, reflecting a growing lack of confidence that the 81-year-old Democrat is able to defeat the presumptive Republican nominee. The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the meeting.

Among those on the list to attend the gathering in Washington are former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, lawyer George Conway, veteran Republican operative Mike Murphy, commentators Bill Kristol and Charlie Sykes, and strategist Sarah Longwell. In recent days, several of these Never Trumpers have publicly called on Biden to either drop out of the race or consider doing so.

“I keep returning to a conclusion I reached a while back, but felt was not realistic enough as a scenario to be worth expressing,” Conway tweeted Sunday evening. “For the good of the country and their own good, both of the major-party presidential candidates should retire.”

These pundits and operatives have taken some professional risks to boost the Democratic president; that they are now urging him to step aside is no small development. Although many disaffected Republicans feel the Democratic nominee hasn’t done enough to earn their vote, Biden has attracted a number of ex-GOP supporters who believe Trump’s potential return to the White House poses a unique threat. Last Wednesday—a day before the presidential debate—Biden picked up a couple of key, if predictable, endorsements from Republicans who have found themselves at odds with the leader of their own party.

During a news conference in the lobby of the Georgia state capitol, former Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and former Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan announced their support for Biden. Yes, they conceded they had policy disagreements with the president. But they said their overriding concerns above Trump are pushing them to support a Democrat for president for the first time.

“We want somebody who’s going to defend democracy,” Kinzinger told reporters in Atlanta.

“This was an easy decision for me,” Duncan added.

Since the debate, Kinzinger has not shied away from saying that Biden performed poorly but reiterated that he would still vote for the president over Trump. Still, the former congressman has expressed a desire for Democrats to weigh their options going forward. “At a time when literal democracy is at risk,” he wrote on Friday, “the Democrats need to have a family meeting about the best way to defend this country, and what part Biden plays in that vital effort.”

Kristol, for his part, said Sunday he would still vote for Biden if he’s who the Democrats put forward against Trump. “But he shouldn’t be the nominee,” Kristol said of the president on ABC News’ This Week. “We owe [Biden] a lot for what he did in 2020 in defeating Donald Trump, and we owe him a lot for being a good president for three and a half years. We don’t owe him another four years in the White House. And he should step aside.”

Michael Warren is a senior editor at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he was an on-air reporter at CNN and a senior writer at the Weekly Standard. When Mike is not reporting, writing, editing, and podcasting, he is probably spending time with his wife and three sons.

David M. Drucker is a senior writer at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he was a senior correspondent for the Washington Examiner. When Drucker is not covering American politics for The Dispatch, he enjoys hanging out with his two boys and listening to his wife's excellent taste in music.

Steve Hayes is CEO and editor of The Dispatch, based in Annapolis, Maryland. Prior to co-founding the company in 2019, he worked at The Weekly Standard for 18 years, covering Washington, politics, and national security. Steve is the author of two New York Times bestsellers. He also worked as a contributor at CNN and Fox News, and currently serves as a political analyst at NBC News. When Steve is not focused on The Dispatch, he’s probably traveling with his family, grilling, or riding his mountain bike.