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Business leaders and pro-democracy activists send letter asking Biden to step down

Business leaders and pro-democracy activists send letter asking Biden to step down

Business leaders and pro-democracy activists send letter asking Biden to step down

A prominent group of political donors, civic leaders and business executives founded to protect the institutions of American democracy sent a letter Friday morning to President Biden asking him to “cement his legacy” by ending his reelection bid.

“We respectfully urge you to withdraw your candidacy for reelection for the sake of our democracy and the future of our nation,” wrote 168 signers of the private letter, which continued to gain 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 several White House advisers, said a person familiar with the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private communication.

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

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, executive director of the Leadership Now Project, who worked in the Obama administration, declined to comment Friday on the letter. The group had previously released an unsigned statement Wednesday calling for Biden to step aside.

“Our primary concern is the risk that former President (Donald) Trump poses to the economy, national security and the risk that he will undermine the rule of law,” Ballou-Aares said in an appearance Thursday on CNN. “We are also in touch with members of the House and Senate to let them know our concerns.”

He said that if Biden remains the nominee, he expects all members of the caucus to continue supporting him against Trump. He 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 about the president’s accomplishments and Trump’s unfitness for office.

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

The letter the group delivered Friday praised Biden’s decades of public service.

“As members of the Leadership Now Project and like-minded business and civic leaders committed to protecting American democracy, we have been vocal about the threats posed by a second Donald Trump term. The risks to the United States are profound: global and domestic instability, abandonment by our allies, crony capitalism, political retaliation, and further erosion of the rights of women and other groups,” the letter said.

“At this momentous time for our nation, it is time to cement its legacy by passing the torch, just as George Washington did,” the letter added.