‘I’m with Joe’: Biden relies on his ‘pal’ Chuck Schumer to save his presidential campaign

Gun Rights

All eyes were on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer this week as Democratic members of Congress huddled to decide the fate of President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and their path forward. Several House Democrats publicly called on Biden to withdraw from the presidential race following a disastrous debate performance and declining poll numbers.

Schumer, an architect of Biden’s legislative achievements, has reportedly worked behind the scenes to quell dissent amid mounting concerns — by Democratic Party officials and major donors — about the president’s physical signs of aging and his ability to defeat former President Donald Trump in November. There is also fear that Biden might drag down-ballot Democrats in tight races and swing districts.

Senate Democrats didn’t speak out in public against Biden ahead of the weekly policy lunch on Tuesday. Biden sent a letter to congressional Democrats on Monday saying he was “firmly committed” to staying in this race. 

Schumer, 73, indicated that he remains committed to supporting Biden. In a press conference following the meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Schumer told reporters repeatedly, “As I’ve said before, I’m with Joe.”

If anyone can hold the line for Biden, it is Schumer, known as the Senate’s “Great Kibbitzer.” 

According to a TIME magazine profile, Schumer often calls colleagues with his signature flip phone to check up on them. In the 2021 interview, Schumer said he speaks with Biden two or three times a week. Their relationship spans more than 30 years. In 1993, while serving in the House, Schumer faced strong resistance from the National Rifle Association in his effort to regulate handgun purchases. He turned to Biden, then chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to help persuade reluctant House members to support the legislation that would become the landmark Brady Bill.

In January 2013, at the White House’s congressional inaugural luncheon, then-Vice President Biden toasted Schumer, whom he called “pal” and remarked that they were “cut from the same cloth.” 

”I raise my glass to a man who never, never, never operates out of fear, only operates out of confidence — and I’m toasting you, Chuck,” Biden said. “And a guy who I plan on working with — you can’t get rid of me, man.” 

In a proclamation marking Jewish American Heritage Month in 2021, Biden noted Schumer’s historic election as the first Jewish majority leader and the highest-ranking Jewish American elected official in history.

Earlier this year, when the Jewish Senate leader faced backlash over his call for new Israeli elections, Biden gave him cover. “He made a good speech and I think he expressed a serious concern shared not only by him but by many Americans,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office. 

Schumer encouraged Biden to run for reelection and said in February that the president’s “mental acuity is great.” He called chatter of his decline “right-wing propaganda.” 

Historically, Schumer has been reluctant to use his sway to convince colleagues to retire when demonstrating failing health. Last year, Dianne Feinstein, the long-serving Jewish senator from California, faced growing criticism for remaining in the Senate despite showing cognitive decline and after being hospitalized and missing key votes. Schumer didn’t intervene. Feinstein died in September

 

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