“I don’t like where we are,” Illinois Gov. Pritzker says in remark believed to be about presidential race

    “I don’t like where we are,” Illinois Gov. Pritzker says in remark believed to be about presidential race

    CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is one President Joe Biden’s strongest supporters, but at an unrelated crime-fighting event on Wednesday, a hot microphone caught him making what is believed to be a remark about the state of the presidential race.

    “I mean, we’re just going to keep fighting. I don’t know what to say. You know, got to do what we have to do,” Pritzker was heard saying to a man at the event. “I don’t like where we are, but…”

    Jordan Abudayyeh, deputy chief of communications for Gov. Pritzker’s office, said it “sounds like (Pritzker) was talking about the state of the presidential race.”

    Meanwhile, some of Chicago’s richest were set to open their wallets for President Biden in Chicago next month, but sources told CNN the fundraising lunch for wealthy Chicago Democrats has been called off. The would-be hosts pulled the plug as questions continue to swirl about the Biden campaign and whether the president should continue his run for another term.

    Fundraiser for President Biden in Chicago canceled amid calls for him to exit race

    Talking with reporters later at the same event where he was caught on the hot mic, Pritzker talked about the cancellation—and downplayed its significance.

    “I think everything’s fluid right now, and I honestly think the president is doing a fine job of raising money. You see all the money that they’ve raised online for the Biden-Harris campaign. I know of fundraisers that are ongoing,” Pritzker said. “So any rumor that you may have heard about something like that, I think, is overblown.”

    Pritzker also emphasized what he characterized as the threat posed by a return to office by former President and current presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    “Let’s start with the fact that he would sign a ban on abortion that would affect everybody in the state of Illinois—not to mention the city of Chicago,” Pritzker said. “He would also be bad for working families. He wants to put tariffs in place—you know what that’ll do? Massive inflation—that’s what Donald Trump is all about.”

    He said former President Trump is a “convicted felon,” a “congenital liar,” and a “vindictive, selfish, narcissistic person.”

    “I think Donald Trump will use every tool in the toolbox to go after people all across the country—and I’m talking about the people of the city of Chicago that didn’t vote for him,” Pritzker said.

    But reporters continued asking about President Biden—and reports that Pritzker himself has been suggested as someone who could replace Mr. Biden on the ticket.

    “I’m supporting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for president,” he said. “I’m going to work my tail off to make sure that they win.”

    Pritzker also emphasized that Mr. Biden has been out in public making an impression since his poor debate performance last month that has led to calls for his withdrawal.

    He’s talking to the public. He’s talking to reporters. That’s what we need him to do,” Pritzker said, “and remember, he also went to the NATO Summit—very important to represent the strength of the United States at the NATO Summit. By the way, something that Donald Trump wants to do away with, NATO.”

    Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was also at the crime-fighting event Wednesday. On Tuesday night, President Biden hosted a call with Democratic mayors to try and shore up support for his nomination heading into the DNC—including Mayor Johnson.

    “What I said was we’re with him,” Johnson said. “There’s only one person in this country who has ever defeated Donald Trump.”

    All this comes amid a growing list of prominent Democrats to call on the president to step down. That list now includes Hollywood superstar George Clooney.

    In a New York Times op-ed published Wednesday, Clooney urged the Democratic Party to choose a new nominee, pointing to Mr. Biden’s disastrous debate performance last month. 

    “We are not going to win in November with this president,” Clooney wrote. “On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate. This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and Congress member and governor who I’ve spoken with in private.”

    Clooney’s op-ed came less than a month after he co-hosted a star-studded fundraiser for the Biden camapaign that included former President Barack Obama, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and actress Julia Roberts. 

    However, Clooney’s support for the president now appears to be waning. 

    “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 wrote. “He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

    David Axelrod, director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and former senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist for Obama’s campaigns, weighed in on Clooney’s comments Wednesday night.

    “Look, I think there’s merit to it,” Axelrod said. “This is all a matter of risk assessment. There’s risk assessment with everything. The question is whether the risk of the status quo eclipses the risk of trying something else—and I think we’ve reached the point where many have come to that conclusion.”

    Axelrod added that Clooney’s perception on President Biden’s decline is “devastating.”

    “And it’s what people fear,” Axelrod said.

    Meanwhile, nine House Democrats have also called directly on Mr. Biden to exit the race—including Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois).

    “The fighting spirit and pride and courage that served the country so well four years ago, helped Joe Biden win, will bring the ticket down this time. He just has to step down because he can’t win, and my colleagues need to recognize that,” Quigley said Tuesday. “A dismissive letter is not going to change any minds.”

    But several other Illinois Democratic members of Congress have reiterated their support for Mr. Biden—including Reps. Jonathan Jackson, Robin Kelly, Danny Davis, and Jan Schakowsky.

    So far, President Biden has defiantly refused to go anywhere.

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