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Hill focuses on Biden press conference as calls to drop reelection bid continue

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All eyes on Capitol Hill — let’s face it, throughout world capitals, too — will be trained on President Joe Biden on Thursday afternoon.

His press conference, landing amid the close of the NATO summit, also comes as Biden’s team tries to reassure wavering Hill Democrats he’s up for another term.

The hits kept coming Wednesday night. Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) became the first Democrat from the upper chamber to call on Biden to stand aside, arguing “the latest data makes it clear that the political peril to Democrats is escalating.”

“You’re focusing on a single event because that’s the one that’s coming up,” Welch said Wednesday of the press conference before his Washington Post op-ed published. “There’ll be another event next week. You’ll focus on that. And what it suggests is that the question of aging capacity simply won’t go away.”

Then, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), one of the most moderate Democrats in Congress, went a step further and said he was unsure he could even vote for Biden. “I will not vote for someone if I don’t think they are physically or mentally equipped to lead this nation. And I do not know the answer to that question at this time,” Golden told Maine Public Radio. (Golden had already predicted his party would lose the White House this fall but added at the time “I’m OK with that.”)

And Majority Leader Chuck Schumer issued a statement late Wednesday after a report he might be open to swapping Biden atop the Democratic ticket. “As I have made clear repeatedly publicly and privately, I support President Biden and remain committed to ensuring Donald Trump is defeated in November,” the Senate leader said.

Speaker Mike Johnson, echoing the feelings of many in the GOP conference, was happy to highlight Democratic in-fighting as it enters its second week. “The Democrats are in total disarray,” he said Wednesday night on Fox News. “They don’t have a plan B but they know they have a serious problem.”

Maybe the only saving grace for Hill Democrats? They’ll be out of Washington by the time Biden’s press conference wraps — however it goes.

For your radar: Senate Democrats will gather for a special lunch with senior Biden advisers Mike Donilon and Steve Ricchetti — as well as Biden campaign Chair Jen O’Malley Dillon — on Thursday afternoon at their campaign headquarters off the Hill.