US

Business Leaders Call on Biden to Step Aside


A group of business leaders is calling on President Biden to step aside and make way for a replacement atop the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket.

Leadership Now Project, a coalition of 400 politically active current and retired executives who mostly but not entirely lean left, issued a statement on Wednesday urging Mr. Biden to “pass the torch of this year’s presidential nomination to the next generation of highly capable Democrats.”

The statement is unsigned, but Daniella Ballou-Aares, the group’s founder and chief executive, said that it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the members of Leadership Now Project.

The membership includes Jeni Britton Bauer, the founder of Jeni’s Famous Ice Cream; Thomas W. Florsheim Jr., the chief executive of the footwear maker Weyco Group; Eddie Fishman, the managing director of the investment firm D.E. Shaw & Company; John Pepper, the former chief executive of Procter & Gamble; and Paul Tagliabue, the former commissioner of the National Football League.

The statement comes as major Democratic donors are increasingly concluding that the party would stand a better chance of holding the White House with a different nominee in the wake of Mr. Biden’s weak performance in last week’s presidential debate with Donald J. Trump. But most donors and big money groups on the left have refrained from going public out of concern about generating a backlash.

In its statement, Leadership Now Project called the prospect of a second Trump term “an existential threat to American democracy” and said that at the debate Mr. Biden “failed to effectively make the case against Trump, and we now fear the risk of a devastating loss in November.”

The statement added that “we have heard from many individuals who share our deep concerns about the present course but fear speaking out” and concluded by imploring others “to join us in making this urgent call.”

In an interview, Ms. Ballou-Aares, a business executive who was a senior State Department adviser during the Obama administration, said she had been disturbed by the messaging from the White House and other Biden supporters in recent days.

“This sense that this is a small group family decision is not good for democracy,” she said, calling it “really inconsistent with where people were after watching the debate.”

Her group, which consists of nonprofit arms and a political action committee, has endorsed candidates from both parties, and recently hosted at its annual meeting former Representative Adam Kinzinger, an anti-Trump Republican, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat mentioned as a possible replacement for Mr. Biden.



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