Johnson to join Democratic mayors on phone call with Biden as president fights to stay in presidential race

“Donald Trump is a dire threat to everything we hold dear,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said on the X social media platform. “Joe Biden is the president and our Democratic nominee, and we all need to do everything we can to defeat Donald Trump this November.”

SHARE Johnson to join Democratic mayors on phone call with Biden as president fights to stay in presidential race
Mayor Brandon Johnson delivers a speech at The Old Post Office on Wednesday, June 28, 2023 in Chicago. | Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

Mayor Brandon Johnson speaks at a campaign appearance by President Joe Biden last year at the Old Post Office in Chicago.

Owen Ziliak/Sun-Times

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Mayor Brandon Johnson said Tuesday he’s “looking forward speaking to” and hearing from President Joe Biden on a call Tuesday night with Democratic mayors as Biden continues to try and save his candidacy after a debate debacle.

“What’s clear to me and to people across Chicago, is that Donald Trump is a dire threat to everything we hold dear, including our democracy, our freedoms and our economy,” Johnson said in a statement posted on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Joe Biden is the president and our Democratic nominee, and we all need to do everything we can to defeat Donald Trump this November.”

Johnson’s political director Christian Perry refused to elaborate on the mayor’s carefully worded statement. Nor would he say what the mayor plans to ask Biden or what the president needs to do to reassure Chicago’s mayor that he has the energy and mental acuity to win the race and serve the nation through another four-year term.

Perry was asked whether Johnson shares the concern of a growing number of Democratic leaders and donors — including U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel, brother of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel — that a debate-weakened Biden at the top of the Democratic ticket could drag down the entire ticket and cost Democrats any chance to retain control of the U.S. House and win control of the U.S. Senate.

“He’s excited to talk to the president tonight and looks forward to welcoming him and Vice President Harris here to Chicago to claim the nomination,” Perry said. The telephone call is scheduled for 7 p.m. Chicago time.

Pressed on whether Johnson would back Vice President Kamala Harris as Biden’s replacement if the president were to bow out, Perry said, “I can’t answer a hypothetical.”

As mayor of the city that will host the Democratic National Convention, Johnson is in a political box.

He cannot afford to do anything but stand firmly behind Joe Biden unless and until Biden himself decides to drop out.

But Johnson has also been openly disenchanted with the Biden administration’s response to a migrant crisis that has dominated the rookie mayor’s first year in office and put an incredible strain on city finances. Just this week, Johnson appealed to the federal government for more help to stop the bloodshed on Chicago streets.

After a Fourth of July weekend marred by more than 100 shootings, 19 of them fatal, Johnson said the feds must stop the flow of illegal guns and provide more money for victim support, as well as what he called “boots on the ground” such as violence interrupters.

“Remember the mass shooting that happened in Highland Park and all the services they got? That’s what we’re asking for. That’s all,” the mayor said Monday. “What other suburban places get around the country when mass shootings happen like that, we’re just simply saying that Chicago deserves that as well.”

Biden’s steadfast support of Israel in the war between Israel and Hamas has further complicated the relationship.

Johnson alienated Jewish leaders who have been among the president’s biggest backers by casting the tie-breaking vote for a non-binding City Council resolution demanding a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Progressive, pro-Palestinian firebrands who are some of the mayor’s staunchest City Council supporters have denounced Biden as “Genocide Joe.”

Three months ago, an effort to remove Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) as Housing Committee chair for appearing at a City Hall rally where an American flag was burned to protest U.S. support for Israel was snuffed out after a private apology, a public forgiveness and a divided vote.

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