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Biden vows to keep running as signs point to rapidly eroding support for him on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A defiant President Joe Biden vowed on Wednesday to keep running for reelection, rejecting growing pressure from Democrats to withdraw after a disastrous debate performance raised questions about his readiness. But in an ominous sign for the president, a leading ally publicly suggested a way that the party might choose someone else.

“I am running. I am the leader of the Democratic Party. No one is pushing me out,” Biden said in a call with staffers on his reelection campaign, according to a top aide who posted his comment on the X social media platform.

Biden was pulling every possible lever to try to salvage his reelection campaign — talking to top legislators, pumping up his campaign staff and meeting later in the day with Democratic governors before a planned weekend blitz of travel and a network TV interview.

But there were signs that support for Biden was rapidly eroding among Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, a longtime Biden ally, said he would back a “mini-primary” in the run-up to the Democratic National Convention next month if Biden were to leave the race. Clyburn, D-S.C., floated an idea that appeared to be laying the groundwork for alternatives by delegates during the Democrats’ planned virtual roll call that is scheduled before the more formal party convention.

“You can actually fashion the process that’s already in place to make it a mini-primary and I would support that,” Clyburn told CNN.

He said Vice President Kamala Harris, governors and others could join the competition. “It would be fair to everybody. … Because if she were to be the nominee we need to have a running mate. And need a strong running mate.”

Clyburn, a senior lawmaker who is a former member of his party’s House leadership team, said he has not personally seen the president act as he did on the debate stage last week.

“I saw what I saw last Thursday night, and it is concerning,” Clyburn said.

Some suggested Harris was emerging as the favorite to replace Biden if he were to withdraw, although those involved

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