Hawaii governor says Biden could decide within days whether to remain in the presidential race

Jul 7, 2024, 4:00 PM

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, second from left, a...

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, second from left, and his wife Jaime Green as they pass the massive Banyan tree while visiting areas devastated by the Maui wildfires, Aug. 21, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. Green, on July 6, said Biden could decide within days whether to remain a candidate for re-election and that if the president drops out, he expects Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him at the top of the ticket. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

President Joe Biden could make a decision within days whether to remain a candidate for reelection, said Hawaii’s governor who participated in a recent meeting with Biden and other Democratic governors and whose family has known the president for years.

And if Biden decides not to run, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green told The Associated Press on Saturday that he believes the president will designate Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him on the ticket.

“I think the president stays in this race unless he feels that it is not winnable, or he feels that he has to hear other voices in his inner circle that he shouldn’t run,” Green said. “If the president felt that he wasn’t up to it and truly not up to it, he would step down.

“We’ll probably know in the next couple of days how the president feels about all this,” he said.

Biden has repeatedly insisted that he will remain in the race against his likely Republican opponent, former President Donald Trump. But questions about Biden’s mental acuity have swirled since his disastrous debate performance last month. As some of his fellow Democrats have encouraged Biden to exit the campaign, the president has pointed to support from other elected officials in the party, particularly governors.

Green, who was a physician on Hawaii’s Big Island before he was elected governor, said everyone has parents or grandparents who have moments that aren’t that great or pauses in their ability to express themselves clearly. But, he added, they aren’t discarded because of their experience, wisdom and their role in the family.

“That’s why I’m standing by the president until he tells me otherwise,” said Green.

Green said the timeline of a few days for a decision anticipates pressure that might be placed on Biden after members of Congress return this week to Capitol Hill.

“I really, honestly think that he has to make the decision. And it should not come from another governor. It should not come from anyone but the closest, closest advisers to him and his own heart,” Green said.

Green was quick to point out that Trump is only three years younger than Biden and both will have bad days going forward. But he argued that temperament is more important than age.

“For God’s sake, these two guys have to hold the nuclear codes,” Green said. “I don’t want someone who tweets in the middle of the night and rages at other countries. That is not good. That’s not the problem we have with President Biden.”

If Biden were to leave the campaign, Green said the president should be allowed to say who he thinks should replace him on the ticket.

“I think it’s very clear that the Democratic Party would be ecstatic overall to have the president designate his vice president if it came to that,” Green said.

Harris “is a powerful person, she is also a thought-leading woman, she’s an African American who was (California’s) attorney general,” Green said. “There are no credentials that are better than what the current vice president has.”

Green, whose wife’s uncle was Biden’s college roommate, also provided insight into last week’s meeting that governors had with the president. During the meeting, Green asked Biden about his health. Biden responded by saying everything was fine except for his brain.

Green told the AP that the president was joking, and that context was lost when leaked by other people.

“It was absolutely a joke, and in order to make a self-deprecating joke, you have to have intact cognitive function, period,” Green said.

He also discounted any assertion that advisers crafted the meeting to have governors supportive of Biden speak first to quell any dissent. Instead, he said it was a very candid, unscripted conversation with 25 governors with differing opinions.

“That call had just like you’d expect in a coffee shop, a few people mouthed off, a few people, you know, probably excessively praised the president, but almost everybody was just trying to see, ‘Are we OK?’” Green said.


Thiessen reported from Anchorage, Alaska.

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Hawaii governor says Biden could decide within days whether to remain in the presidential race