George Clooney and the growing celebrity revolt against Biden

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George Clooney called Wednesday for President Biden to exit the 2024 presidential election race, urging Democrats to pick a new nominee.

The Academy Award-winning actor’s defection adds to a wave of outcry from prominent Democrats calling for Biden, 81, to step aside after his halting, confused performance in a June 27 presidential debate against Donald Trump, 78, who has long claimed that Biden is mentally unfit to lead the country.

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

“I love Joe Biden. As a senator. As a 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 fight against time,” he added. “… It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe ‘big F-ing deal’ Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

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

Clooney added that Democrats have become so focused on defeating Trump in the upcoming election that they have “opted 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, created concerns that next year Democrats would control neither the White House, the Senate nor the House of Representatives.

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

Though Clooney did not name a specific person to replace Biden, he pointed to Vice President Harris and a number of Democratic governors (such as Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and California’s Gavin Newsom) as potential candidates.

Clooney’s criticisms Wednesday weren’t quite out of the blue. In May, the actor called one of Biden’s top aides to complain about Biden’s denunciation of the International Criminal Court’s action against Israeli leaders. Clooney’s wife, Amal Clooney, worked on that case. The call caused some Biden officials to worry that Clooney would withdraw from a fundraiser that featured former president Barack Obama, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel and actress Julia Roberts. The event, at which Kimmel interviewed Biden and Obama, reportedly raised more than $30 million, according to the Associated Press.

Biden has firmly denounced calls from Washington “elites” to step aside since the presidential debate against Trump last month, but the outcry from celebrities who have significantly bolstered his fundraising efforts adds public and financial pressure — and might be snowballing.

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

He added that Biden’s “difficulty with the debate” could have been easily 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 just don’t deal with all your facts; just deal with [Trump’s] lies.”

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

“My friend George Clooney has clearly expressed what many of us have been saying. We love and respect Joe Biden,” Reiner wrote. “We acknowledge 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 faith 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’s time for him—in the interests of the America he so clearly loves—to announce he will not run for re-election,” King wrote on X.

correction

A previous version of this article incorrectly said when George Clooney made a call to one of President Biden’s top aides. It was in May, not June. The article has been corrected.

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