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George Clooney on President Joe Biden: ‘We're not going to win with this president'

George Clooney on Joe Biden: ‘We're not going to win with this president'
George Clooney on Joe Biden: ‘We're not going to win with this president' Copyright Evan Agostini/Invision/AP - Morry Gash/AP
Copyright Evan Agostini/Invision/AP - Morry Gash/AP
By David Mouriquand
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George Clooney, a high-profile Biden supporter and fundraiser, is the latest in a series of high-profile donors, celebrities and political figures to call for Biden to end his campaign, after the President's disastrous 27 June debate against Donald Trump.

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Movie star, self-described "lifelong Democrat” and one of the party's leading fundraisers George Clooney has added his voice to several other celebrities calling for President Joe Biden to end his faltering reelection campaign. 

Clooney wrote in a New York Times opinion piece that he loves Biden, 81, but the party would lose the presidential race as well as any control in Congress with him as the nominee. 

"I love Joe Biden," Clooney wrote. "I consider him a friend, and I believe in him... But the one battle he cannot win is the fight against time.” 

In his op-ed, Clooney said: "Our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw," in reference to Biden’s weak debate performance against presumptive Republican nominee and newly convicted felon Donald Trump on 27 June. 

"This is about age. Nothing more," he continued. "We are not going to win in November with this president." 

“This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and congress member and governor that I’ve spoken with in private.”  

Clooney argued the party should pick a new nominee at its convention next month, saying the process would be “messy” but “wake up” voters in the party’s favour. 

“It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fundraiser was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010," Clooney wrote. “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.” 

Last month, Clooney, Barack Obama, Julia Roberts and Barbara Streisand were among those who took the stage for a Los Angeles fundraiser that took in a record $28 million according to the Biden campaign. The event was done in hopes of energizing would-be supporters for a White House contest they said may rank among the most consequential in US history. 

"Top Democrats - Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, Nancy Pelosi - and senators, representatives and other candidates who face losing in November need to ask this president to voluntarily step aside," wrote Clooney.  

He continued by syaing that the party should hear from contenders such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Maryland Governor Wes Moore and others, "then we could go into the Democratic convention next month and figure it out.” 

The Oscar-winner brushed aside worries that Biden's exit would create chaos four months before an election, and did not endorse a replacement candidate. He also did not say whether he would withhold funding until Biden leaves, as Abigail Disney – the heiress to the Disney media fortune – did last week, along with several other wealthy donors. 

President Joe Biden shakes hands with actor, director and producer George Clooney during the Kennedy Center honorees reception at the White House in Washington - 4 Dec. 2022.
President Joe Biden shakes hands with actor, director and producer George Clooney during the Kennedy Center honorees reception at the White House in Washington - 4 Dec. 2022.Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Clooney isn't alone in his characterization of his recent exchange with Biden.

A person who interacted closely with Biden described the president as vibrant and engaging at a fundraiser in March but, at the Los Angeles event months later, said they noticed a notable diminishment in Biden’s presence. 

The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private interactions with the president, recalled being struck by how tired and “out of it” the president seemed during backstage conversations at the Los Angeles event, adding that they gave Biden the benefit of the doubt for not being as voluble and showing lower energy off-stage because he arrived in Los Angeles after traveling from Italy where he had attended an international summit. 

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Joe Biden
Joe BidenAP Photo

Asked for comment on Clooney’s op-ed, the Biden camp hit back, disputing the actor's representation of Biden’s demeanor during the Los Angeles fundraiser. An unnamed source told US media: “The President stayed for over 3 hours [at the fundraiser], while Clooney took a photo quickly and left.” 

Biden’s campaign also pointed to the president’s letter to congressional Democrats earlier in the week vowing to stay in the race. 

Luminaries from the entertainment world have increasingly lined up in calling Biden to step aside. Actor Michael Douglas, who also hosted a Hollywood fundraiser for Biden in April, said Clooney had a "valid point" when asked about the editorial during an appearance Wednesday on TV chat show The View.

Douglas did not call for Biden to step aside, but said he was "deeply, deeply concerned."  

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"I adore the guy... and this just happens to be one of these elections that is just so crucial," he said, adding: "I don't worry necessarily today or tomorrow, but a year down the line, I worry." 

Additional sources • AP, AFP

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