Business leaders and democracy activists send letter asking Biden to withdraw

A prominent group of political donors, civic leaders and business leaders, created to protect the institutions of American democracy, sent a letter to President Biden on Friday morning urging him to “cement his legacy” by ending his bid for re-election.

“We respectfully request that you withdraw your candidacy for reelection for the sake of our democracy and the future of our country,” wrote 168 signatories to the private letter, which was still collecting signatures after it was delivered to senior White House officials.

The letter was organized by the Leadership Now Project, a group founded in 2018 in response to growing concerns about threats to democratic norms. It was delivered to multiple White House advisers, said a person familiar with the effort, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private communications.

The signatories include Christy Walton, the billionaire daughter-in-law of the Walmart founder; retired NFL commissioner Paul J. Tagliabue; billionaire investor Mike Novogratz; former Google executive Ning Mosberger-Tang; Warburg Pincus Managing Director Harsha Marti; Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig; New York University professor and podcaster Scott Galloway; Weyco Group CEO Tom Florsheim; former Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera; and hedge fund investor Kevin Brennan of Bridgewater Associates. Vicky Hausman, the CEO of Forward Majority, a group that supports Democrats in state legislative elections, also signed on.

Voter concerns about President Biden’s age date back to 2019. The fallout from his poor debate performance has made it a turning point for his re-election campaign. (Video: JM Rieger, Adriana Usero/The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

Daniella Ballou-Aares, the CEO of the Leadership Now Project who served in the Obama administration, declined to comment on the letter on Friday. The group released an unsigned statement earlier on Wednesday calling on Biden to step aside.

“Our biggest concern is the risk that the former president [Donald] Trump poses a threat to the economy, national security and the risk of undermining the rule of law,” Ballou-Aares said in an appearance on CNN on Thursday. “We are also in discussions with members of the House and Senate to express our concerns.”

She said that if Biden remains the nominee, she expects all members of the group to continue to support him against Trump. She also said that Biden is now much more likely to lose than win if he remains the nominee.

The White House referred a request for comment to the Biden campaign, which responded with a statement criticizing the president’s performance and Trump’s unfitness for office.

“With economists warning that Trump will stoke inflation and plunge us into a recession, while President Biden’s agenda will continue to cut costs and boost job growth, the choice in this election could not be clearer for anyone who wants America to succeed,” said Biden campaign spokesman Charles Lutvak.

The letter, delivered by the group on Friday, praised Biden’s decades of service to the public.

“As members of the Leadership Now Project and like-minded business and civic leaders committed to protecting American democracy, we have spoken out about the threats that a second term for Donald Trump poses. The risks to America are grave: global and domestic instability, abandonment of our allies, crony capitalism, political retaliation, and further erosion of the rights of women and other groups,” the letter reads.

“At this pivotal moment for our nation, it is time to seal your legacy by passing the torch, just as George Washington did,” the letter added.

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