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George Clooney, celebrities call on Biden to withdraw from 2024 race

George Clooney on Wednesday called for President Biden to withdraw from the 2024 presidential race, and urged Democrats to choose a new candidate.

The Academy Award-winning actor’s move comes amid a wave of outrage from prominent Democrats calling on Biden (81) to step down after his troubled and confused performance in the June 27 presidential debate against Donald Trump (78). Trump has long claimed that Biden is mentally unfit to lead the country.

Clooney’s criticism is particularly notable because he was one of Biden’s biggest and best-known supporters in Hollywood, a key support base for the president that now appears to be faltering.

“I love Joe Biden. As a senator. As vice president and as president,” Clooney wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “I consider him a friend, and I believe in him.”

“But the one battle he cannot win is the battle against time,” he added. “… It’s devastating to say, but the Joe Biden I was with at the fundraiser three weeks ago was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same guy we all saw at the debate.”

Simon Halls, a spokesman for Clooney, declined to comment.

Clooney added that Democrats are so focused on defeating Trump in the upcoming election that they have chosen to ignore “every warning sign” about the president’s age. He said Biden’s debate performance, as well as his ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos, raised concerns that Democrats would not control the White House, the Senate or the House of Representatives next year.

“This is about age. Nothing more,” Clooney wrote. “But also nothing that can be undone. We will not win in November with this president.”

While Clooney didn’t name a specific person to replace Biden, he did point to Vice President Harris and several Democratic governors (such as Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Gavin Newsom of California) as possible candidates.

Clooney’s criticism on Wednesday didn’t come entirely out of the blue. In May, the actor called one of Biden’s top advisers to complain about Biden’s condemnation of the International Criminal Court’s action against Israeli leaders. Clooney’s wife, Amal Clooney, was working on that case. The call prompted concerns among some Biden officials that Clooney would back out of a fundraiser featuring former President Barack Obama, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel and actress Julia Roberts. The event, at which Kimmel interviewed Biden and Obama, was expected to raise more than $30 million, according to the Associated Press.

Biden has resolutely rejected calls from Washington “elites” to step aside since the presidential debate against Trump last month, but the outcry from celebrities who have made significant contributions to his fundraising efforts is adding to the public and financial pressure — and could snowball.

“I think it’s a valid point,” actor Michael Douglas, who hosted a fundraiser for Biden in April, said Wednesday of Clooney’s op-ed on “The View.” “I’m deeply, deeply concerned.” He stopped short, however, of calling for Biden to drop out of the race.

He added that Biden’s “difficulties with the debate” could have easily been avoided. “First of all, they should have just told the president to stand up, put a little makeup on him, … and then where to look,” he said. “… And don’t deal with all your facts; just deal with (Trump’s) lies.”

Actor and filmmaker Rob Reiner also supported Clooney’s op-ed in a post shared on X.

“My friend George Clooney has clearly stated what many of us have said. We love and respect Joe Biden,” Reiner wrote. “We recognize all he has done for our country. But democracy is facing an existential threat. We need someone younger to fight back. Joe Biden must step aside.”

Other Hollywood players who have lost confidence in Biden include CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings, filmmaker Michael Moore, actor John Cusack and author Stephen King.

“Joe Biden has been a fine president, but it is time for him — for the sake of the America he so clearly loves — to announce that he will not seek re-election,” King wrote on X.

correction

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated when George Clooney placed a phone call to one of President Biden’s top advisers. It was in May, not June. The article has been corrected.

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