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Rep. Emanuel Cleaver is worried about Joe Biden's candidacy — but also about an open convention

FILE - In this June 27, 2018 file photo, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., asks a question during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Housing advocates are raising the alarm about House Republicans' plan to dramatically cut the federal deficit to raise the debt ceiling, warning that struggling families could lose access to rental aid. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
Jacquelyn Martin
On KCUR's Up To Date, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he has not yet made up his mind on the best direction for the future of the party.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City, expressed concerns about Joe Biden’s stumbling presidential debate performance against Donald Trump. However, he also stressed his belief that an open convention next month in Chicago could be catastrophic for his party’s chances in the 2024 election.

After President Joe Biden struggled at the first presidential debate last week in Atlanta, he is facing calls from some in the Democratic Party to step aside from his 2024 campaign to let another presidential candidate take his place.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City, appeared concerned on KCUR’s Up To Date about the president’s debate performance. But Cleaver has not yet taken a side on whether Biden should leave the race.

“I am worried about the president’s ability to continue the campaign. However, I’m looking to be reassured this coming week that this (performance) is a one-off, he had a bad night,” Cleaver said.

“But, I can honestly take a polygraph test and say I have not come to a final conclusion.”

Cleaver also expressed his worries that an open convention, a scenario in which his party’s candidate would not yet be decided heading into this year’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago, would be “horrible” for their chances of winning against Donald Trump.

“I think we can expect demonstrators from the Palestinian’s point of view,” Cleaver said. “We’re going to have women who would be upset because they don’t believe Vice President Harris is getting the level of consideration that she could. We’re also going to have inside the party — and this could be really dangerous — and that is the Social Democrats, the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, into a death battle with the majority of the others of us. But still, that is not going to be helpful.”

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
Sireen Abayazid is the Up To Date intern. She is a native of Omaha and a recent graduate of Mizzou, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Email her at sabayazid@kcur.org.
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