Business leaders, pro-Democracy activists send letter asking Biden to withdraw

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 calling on him to “cement your legacy” by ending his bid for reelection.

“We respectfully urge you to withdraw from being a candidate for reelection for the sake of our democracy and the future of our nation,” wrote 168 signatories to the private letter, which continued to gain signatures after its delivery to senior White House officials.

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

Among the signatories is 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 Managing Director 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, the CEO of Forward Majority, a group that supports Democrats in state legislative elections, also signed.

Voter concerns about President Biden’s age date back to 2019. Fallout from his poor debate performance has made it an inflection point for his reelection bid. (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 worked in the Obama administration, declined to comment Friday on the letter. The group previously released an unsigned statement on Wednesday calling for Biden to step aside.

“Our number one concern is the risk that former president [Donald] Trump presents to the economy, to national security and the risk that he undermines rule of law,” Ballou-Aares said in an appearance Thursday on CNN. “We are also engaging with members of the House and the Senate making our concerns known.”

She said if Biden remains the nominee, she expects all of the group’s members will continue to support him against Trump. She also said that Biden is now far 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 launch us into a recession, while President Biden’s agenda will continue to lower costs and fuel job growth, the choice this election for anyone who wants America to succeed couldn’t be clearer,” Biden campaign spokesman Charles Lutvak said.

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 term of Donald Trump. The risks to America are profound: global and domestic instability, abandoning our allies, crony capitalism, political retribution, and further erosion of the rights of women and other groups,” the letter said.

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

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