'Shut the Hell Up and Stand By Your Guy': Florida Democrats Blast Party Members Demanding Biden Step Down

'Shut the Hell Up and Stand By Your Guy': Florida Democrats Blast Party Members Demanding Biden Step Down

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
July 9, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida Democratic leaders are butting heads over whether President Biden is fit to lead, as some urge members to put up and shut up in support of the president while others insist he step aside to pave the way for Vice President Kamala Harris.

Why? His historically poor debate performance last week—permeated by gaffes, stutters, and stumbles galore—gave way to anxieties that the 81-year-old Democrat is not mentally capable of running the country, a fear that segued into demands he step down as the party nominee and pass the torch to a candidate like Harris.

Biden, for his part, said no; a controversial response dividing party leadership. One staunch supporter, Broward Committeewoman Grace Carrington—a Biden delegate and the Southern Regional Director for the DNC Black Caucus—told The Floridian that she has a simple message for squabbling liberals attempting to push the President out of the race:

"I wish that the one thing that Democrats would do that Republicans do is to shut the hell up and stand by your guy," she said. "Period."

Carrington: "Five Minutes in the Limelight" Empowers Biden Opponents

Carrington's comments follow a slew of pleas from congressional members, former presidential candidates, respected columnists, and several billionaires urging the President to resign. Adding to the chaos, the House Democratic Caucus held a meeting on Tuesday described by one pro-Biden Democrat as a "funeral" to address Biden's political future.

Among Biden's detractors in Florida is Alan Clendenin, the state's most senior Democratic National Committee member, who released a Sunday statement urging Biden to withdraw from the race before the upcoming November election.

"The future of the Republic we know is in imminent danger and we must hold our country above our party or any one individual," Clendenin, the DNC Southern Regional Caucus Chair, wrote in a statement, before pleading with the president that in the "best interest" of the country and the world, Biden should bow out in favor of Harris.

Carrington disagreed, instead calling on Clendenin—not Biden—to give up his post.

"Alan Clendenin is somebody who just wants a little limelight, and I guess he got it—five minutes of it. But we're here to move on and help this President get over the finish line," she said. "Clendenin's value and what impact it will have on people is very little, but unfortunately it gives others—those that are not supporters of the President—fodder to talk."

Prominent Democratic campaign staffer and former DNC member Nikki Barnes piled on, slamming Clendenin's "unsolicited" and "out of line" comments, writing in a statement, "We don’t turn our backs on our leaders when they’re delivering for the American people. We finish the job. DNC members, like Alan Clendenin, with that many years of experience should know better."

"There's Nothing Good That Trump Has to Offer Black People"

This is just the latest internal strife to hit the Florida Democratic Party. In April, the party leadership faced accusations of antisemitism for refusing to postpone a Miami-Dade County election scheduled on a Jewish holiday. A month earlier, allegations of racism within the party surfaced when two black county chairs were removed, while a controversial white chair remained in office.

Now, Carrington and Daniel Henry, Chair of the Duval County Democratic Party, address the racial aspect of Democrats in support of and against Biden. As first reported by Politico, no African American lawmaker has publicly called for Biden to step down, suggesting that detractors are primarily viewed as "elite white liberals" within the party.

"Black voters have always been the backbone of the Democratic Party," Henry, a Biden superdelegate, told The Floridian, explaining that black voters do not have the "time, luxury, or privilege" to swap Biden out with another candidate a month before the convention.

Carrington echoed her colleague, warning of the risks of forcing Biden out and potentially handing Trump a victory—dragging some of the Democratic congressmen who have called for Biden's removal in the process: "[Rep. Lloyd] Doggett looks like he can't take another step without a walker and [Sen. Mark] Warner is about a day away from that as well. All these guys...look at them! They need a mirror; they should walk around with a mirror."

"All these naysayers—and they're all white men, mostly—they have the luxury of making those statements because their lives are not at stake the way ours are," she asserted, referencing Biden's strong support among black voters in 2020. She then dismissed Republican Congressman Byron Donalds' claims that Trump could attract the black vote, stating, "[Donalds] is delusional and quite frankly, I think the Trump campaign is paying certain black people who are willing to be bought, but I hope they understand that when you are easily bought, you're easily sold."

"There's nothing good that Trump has to offer black people."

"Unity Over Division, Democracy Over Chaos"

All DNC members The Floridian spoke to stressed a common idea: the demand that Biden step aside is a "distraction", and Democrats should band together against Trump. Henry explained that this "unhelpful" conversation detracts from Biden's platform and record, stating, "The cake is baked: he is the nominee, he is our leader. The idea that we would throw out 14 million votes because some people feel otherwise I think is counter-democratic."

Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, Samuel Vilchez Santiago, echoed this sentiment but was more hesitant on whether Biden is the man for the job.

"Do I wish President Biden was younger? Absolutely...but at the end of the day, the Republicans have somebody who's a convicted criminal with 34 felonies and who's lost the popular vote in every election. This is not an election between two men or two political parties—this is an election about two different sets of values and two different visions for the future of our country," he told The Floridian.

"We need to decide to pick unity over division, our democracy over chaos."

But...is Biden the strongest candidate?

"I don't know: there's arguments to be made on both sides," Vilchez Santiago said. He explained that the platforms and ideas from the Democratic side will be the same no matter the nominee—it's just a matter of who can best message those values. Furthermore, he said, Biden has beaten Trump before and, more importantly, Democrats simply don't know if Harris would be more effective as a nominee. For example: is America ready for a woman president?

"It's something I hear all the time," he said. In other words, Democrats should take the familiar (Biden) over the uncertain (swapping him out for the Vice President, a black female).

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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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