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Biden drops out of 2024 race against Trump. Here's what we know about what happens now.

Biden drops out of 2024 race, endorses Harris
President Biden drops out of 2024 race after weeks of pressure 04:58

President Biden announced Sunday he would not continue his bid for reelection, saying it is in "the best interest" of the Democratic Party and the country to withdraw from the race, and he endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to be the nominee. 

The decision came nearly a month after Mr. Biden's poor debate performance in June, which alarmed Democrats in Washington and sparked discussion about whether he could be replaced on the Democratic ticket.

For weeks, until Sunday, Mr. Biden defied growing calls to step aside and sought to prove he was fit to run. 

Here's what we know about the process to replace 81-year-old Democratic nominee.

Biden had to step aside voluntarily 

The president could not be forced to step down from the race because he won the vast majority of the Democratic delegates — close to 4,000 — and had clinched the nomination in March through the party's primary process. He had to step aside voluntarily, which he has now done.

Replacing Biden on the ticket  

Mr. Biden's decision to step aside before the Democratic convention, which begins on Aug. 19 in Chicago, could bring some chaos, said Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame who specializes in election law. 

"It's politically messy before the convention but it's not legally messy," Muller noted. There was no legal impediment to Mr. Biden's decision to give up the nomination, but the decision about who will replace Mr. Biden on the ticket will now be left to the thousands of Democratic delegates who were originally allocated to the president, the National Task Force on Election Crises notes, since he stepped aside before the convention.

Mr. Biden has endorsed his vice president, Kamala Harris, to be the nominee, and a number of top Democrats also quickly announced they'd back her nomination. But it will be up to the delegates to determine the nominee now, and it is not clear yet whether any Democrat will challenge her. 

Former President Barack Obama nodded to the uncertainty of the moment soon after Mr. Biden stepped aside from the campaign. He released a statement that praised Mr. Biden and his "outstanding track record," but did not endorse Harris. 

"We will be navigating uncharted waters in the days ahead," Obama's letter said. "But I have extraordinary confidence that the leaders of our party will be able to create a process from which an outstanding nominee emerges." 

There could be other contenders who could make their case to the delegates currently pledged to vote for Mr. Biden. The Democratic National Committee affirmed Friday that it would hold a virtual roll call to formalize Mr. Biden's nomination between Aug. 1-7, but the DNC has not yet updated its plans. 

The Democratic National Committee originally planned to hold its early virtual roll call almost two weeks before the party's nominating convention in order to meet a ballot certification deadline in Ohio on that date. Currently, President Biden is the only candidate on the ballot, although there is room for delegates to express their preference for another candidate.

Fights at past conventions

A fight over a nominee at the convention could be grueling. The 1924 Democratic National Convention took a record 103 ballots to nominate presidential nominee John W. Davis and vice presidential nominee Charles W. Bryan, who went on to lose in November. 

In 1968, Robert Kennedy — father of current independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. — jumped in the race late, after President Lyndon Johnson announced in late March he wouldn't seek reelection. Kennedy was on track to win more delegates than anti-war candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy when he was gunned down just after his speech following his victory in the California primary. 

Instead of nominating an existing candidate, the Democratic Party chose then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Johnson's pick, at the convention in Chicago. Humphrey lost that November to Richard Nixon. 

If Democrats held a contested convention today, presidential hopefuls would go and make their pitch to the state delegations. 

President Biden dropping out of 2024 presidential race | Special Report 30:23
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