- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2023

President Biden will be on the receiving end of liberal criticism when he travels Friday to Philadelphia to address the Democratic National Committee, throwing a kink in the party’s desire to show a unified front at the annual meeting.

The “Don’t Run Joe” campaign, sponsored by RootsAction.org, plans to protest the Biden visit as part of its push to convince the party faithful to nominate someone else in 2024 and thwart the president’s bid to make South Carolina the first stop on the primary calendar.

Joe Biden has repeatedly said he plans to seek renomination,” Sam Rosenthal, political director of RootsAction, said in a statement. “In case there’s a Democratic challenger, it would be simply unethical for the DNC to allow Biden to dictate key rules of the contest, the order of the primaries before the race begins.”

The liberal group, which backed Sen. Bernard Sanders for president in 2020, said it plans to hand commuters fliers that read, “WE NEED A STRONGER 2024 CANDIDATE THAN JOE BIDEN TO BEAT THE GOP.”

Mr. Biden has indicated he plans to run for reelection, and he could drop further hints about his path at the DNC gathering as well as next week when he delivers the State of the Union address.

Mr. Biden‘s future appeared to be in limbo heading into the midterm elections. The stronger-than-expected results for Democrats, however, helped lower the volume on lingering questions over whether the 80-year-old should exit stage left.

Mr. Sanders and other high-profile liberal warriors, including Rep. Ro Khanna of California, say they won’t run against Mr. Biden.

Liberals have been left with lesser-known potential challengers, such as Marianne Williamson, the spiritual adviser and best-selling self-help author whose underdog bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination boosted her stock in the eyes of activists.

Concerns over Mr. Biden‘s potential reelection push come more than six years after liberal activists descended on the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to accuse the party of rigging the 2016 nomination race for Hillary Clinton and against Mr. Sanders.

Dozens of the pro-Sanders protesters were taken into custody, and one demonstrator accidentally set herself on fire during the burning of an American flag.

A year out from the 2024 nomination contest, polls suggest there would be room for someone else to run.

For now, though, liberals frustrated with Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have yet to rally around a clear alternative and have stayed relatively mum.

The “Don’t Run Joe” organizers have been a major exception. They have run TV ads in early primary states urging Mr. Biden not to run and newspaper ads calling on candidates to take him on.

The effort in Philadelphia involves calling out Mr. Biden and the party for changing the nomination calendar and trying to insulate the incumbent from a challenge.

The group has called the effort “an inappropriate, self-serving intervention dressed up in noble rhetoric.”

Under the Biden plan, South Carolina would kick off the primaries, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire, then Michigan and Georgia.

Mr. Biden‘s victory in South Carolina helped salvage his 2020 campaign after disappointing showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada and put him on a path to the party’s nomination.

“Don’t Run Joe” organizers say South Carolina should not go first because the deep red state has not voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1976.

“Georgia, on the other hand, is one of the most important battleground states and is more racially diverse than South Carolina,” the group says. “If Biden‘s proposal to supplant the New Hampshire primary as first-in-the-nation were truly about diversity and not about improving his own prospects for renomination, he would be promoting a state other than South Carolina to be first.”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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