Joe Biden faces voter backlash over Israel policy

World

Joe Biden has won Michigan’s Democratic presidential primary – but has been hit by a significant protest vote from those angry at his support for Israel’s military action in Gaza.

With most of the counting complete, the US president easily defeated his rival candidates by securing more than 80% of the vote.

However, nearly 14% of voters – almost 100,000 – backed “uncommitted”.

It follows a campaign which urged Democrats to vote for the “none of the above” category to express their opposition to Mr Biden’s support for Israel’s “genocidal” actions towards Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel strongly denies accusations of genocide and other war crimes.

The results are a major boost for campaigners, who were hoping to achieve 10,000 votes for the “uncommitted” category.

The level of dissatisfaction among the Democrat base could be significant during the presidential election in November later this year, as Mr Biden only narrowly won the state – which has a large Arab-American population – during the last election.

The president made no reference to the protest vote in his victory statement – but did urge his party to “come together” to help defeat Donald Trump.

Mr Biden said on Tuesday he hoped a ceasefire in Gaza could be achieved by this weekend.

The US president has previously described Israel’s offensive as “over the top” and has privately described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “asshole” on at least three occasions, according to reports.

Supporters cheer as a speaker talks during an election night gathering, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Dearborn, Mich. Some Democratic voters pledged to vote "uncommitted" in Tuesday's primary to let President Joe Biden know they aren't happy with his support for Israel in its response to the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Campaigners angry at Mr Biden’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war at a rally in Dearborn, Michigan. Pic: AP

However, campaigners have accused Mr Biden of not doing enough to push for peace, and argue Israel’s actions would be limited without the military and economic backing it receives from the US.

The Listen to Michigan campaign said in a statement: “Our movement emerged victorious tonight and massively surpassed our expectations.

“Tens of thousands of Michigan Democrats, many of whom who voted for Biden in 2020, are uncommitted to his re-election due to the war in Gaza.”

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud speaks during an election night gathering, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Dearborn, Mich. Some Democratic voters pledged to vote "uncommitted" in Tuesday's primary to let President Joe Biden know they aren't happy with his support for Israel in its response to the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Image:
Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud. Pic: AP

Protesters are planning to take their campaign to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August.

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It came as Mr Trump continued his winning streak and won the Republican primary in the state on Tuesday, securing more than 68% of the vote.

His main rival Nikki Haley secured just over 25%.

The former UN ambassador vowed to stay in the race despite the disappointing result, which comes following a string of other recent defeats.

She told CNN: “We’ve only seen a handful of states vote. We’re taking this one state, one day, at a time.”

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Trump tells Biden ‘You’re fired!’

Mr Trump told supporters: “We have to win on 5 November, and we’re going to win big, and it’s going to be like nothing that anybody has ever seen. It’s going to be fantastic.

“We win Michigan, we win the whole thing.”

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