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Updated Jul 10, 2024, 2:47pm EDT
politics

Only one man beat Joe Biden in 2024. Here’s what he thinks he should do.

REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
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The News

“I’m almost a Jeopardy question,” said Jason Palmer.

Four months ago, the futurist presidential candidate surprised Democrats by winning the American Samoa caucus, a race few people were paying attention to. His 51 to 40 vote victory over Joe Biden made Palmer the first candidate to beat an incumbent president in a primary since Ted Kennedy in 1980, entitling him to three delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

Palmer soon quit the race, endorsed Biden, and started a new political group called Together! But after the Atlanta debate, Palmer urged Biden to “do the right thing” and end his campaign. He was holding onto his delegates, raising money for their convention trip from Pago Pago to Chicago, and urging the president and the party to figure out a new, winning ticket.

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“I work with a lot of companies where we’ve had to change the CEO of the organization,” Palmer said over the phone from Las Vegas, where he’s attending the annual FreedomFest conference this week. “The best thing, when you’re doing a CEO switch, is to have the CEO 100% bought in. Let them help interview and select their replacement. Let them lead the transition. There really is an art to doing this.”

In his Monday letter to House Democrats, Biden invoked his easy primary victory as a reason to stay: “Do we now just say this process didn’t matter? That the voters don’t have a say?”

Palmer’s response: The party could figure something out. Nearly every Democratic delegate was pledged to Biden, but they had the power to pick a new nominee, if they wanted to. If he was in the mix, great, but that wasn’t the most important question right now.

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“DNC leaders should survey the delegates — or maybe hold a formal vote,” he said. “Are they in favor of allowing other candidates or a mini-primary? Are they open to amending the bylaws, given this unique historical situation?”

In the short term, Palmer had two priorities. One: The party should drop talk of a virtual roll call vote this month, and “absolutely withhold the vote until the convention in person.” Two: He was planning a trip to Wilmington, hoping to meet with the Biden campaign, and the president himself, to see how he could be helpful. He would tell Biden to do “the right thing.”

Did that mean telling him to drop out?

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“Yes,” he said. “But I probably wouldn’t say that in the first sentence. It’s important to build a trusting relationship first.”

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David’s view

The collective decision not to put up a well-known challenger to Biden haunts Democrats now. “If this is vindication, it’s never felt so unfulfilling,” Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips told reporters on Tuesday, reflecting on his brief and doomed primary campaign. Marianne Williamson, who won no delegates in the primary, re-started her campaign after the Atlanta debate. None of these people are being talked about, even politely, as Biden replacements.

But they’re still here, and they are in the mix of voices who will show up over the next month to question if the party really wants to nominate a candidate who they don’t think can win. Their target right now is that “virtual” vote, which would make Biden the nominee this month, and is no longer necessary to get him on state ballots.

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Notable

  • Nancy Pelosi suggested Biden’s nomination was an open question in an MSNBC interview on Wednesday, pouring fuel on a simmering fire of Democratic discontent towards his campaign.
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