Rep. Summer Lee says “we don’t” hear if college students are excited to vote for Biden

Rep. Summer Lee, a progressive Democrat from Pennsylvania who recently visited pro-Palestinian protesters at a Pittsburgh campus, said Sunday that “we don’t” hear if college students are excited to vote for President Biden this upcoming November.

“It’s not a topic that, you know, always comes up, but it does a lot,” Lee said on Sunday. “They’re looking for some sort of acknowledgement from our leadership, that they hear our needs, that they hear these young people saying that we want our country, we want our government to go in a different direction.”

 Lee visited student protesters in her district at the University of Pittsburgh on Thursday where she got an assessment of students’ attitudes toward voting for Mr. Biden. The news comes as a new CBS News poll found that Mr. Biden are in a tight race  — effectively even — with former President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, as well as in two other battleground states, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Lee, who has been critical of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, won her primary contest in Pennsylvania’s 12th District on Tuesday with a significant margin. The race served as a first test of whether Democratic incumbents, especially those in the “Squad” of left-wing, progressive Democrats in Congress, would be hurt by their opposition to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

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Rep. Summer Lee on “Face the Nation,” April 28, 2024. CBS News

The Democratic opponent in the primary, Bhavini Patel, ran as  more of a moderate and challenged Lee’s willingness to break with Mr. Biden’s support for Israel. Lee was one of the 36 Democrats and 21 Republicans last week who voted against the House bill that will provide $26.4 billion to Israel. She also was one of the first lawmakers in the fall to call for a cease-fire in Gaza.

“Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan asked Lee how she can ask progressives to vote for Mr. Biden in November if a cease-fire is “such a matter of conscience.” Lee said, just like in every election cycle, she urges voters to look at the totality of a candidate and not just one issue.

“When we look at an election like mine, we’ve seen how popular it is to take a pro-peace stance, how popular it is to call for a different direction in the policies that the United States has towards the war in Gaza, towards sending unconditional weapons, offensive weapons to Netanyahu,” Lee said. “Our government still has time to react, we still have time to listen to the folks who have feelings about that.”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday said U.S. college protesters are “antisemitic mobs” and that the demonstrations are “reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s.”

Lee said she had seen first-hand  solidarity among the  students, including Jewish students, and she argued that Netanyahu doesn’t want to listen to their message.

“This idea that every criticism of Israel is antisemitic is dangerous,” Lee said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “When you’re on the ground, you see that all of those students have been working together or had been learning and educating together and they are all in one voice crying for a difference in direction, particularly from Benjamin Netanyahu. So I’m not shocked that he would want to cast them as evil.”

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