Senator Peter Welch
Senator Peter WelchReuters/Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA

Vermont Sen. Peter Welch on Wednesday became the first Democratic senator to call on President Joe Biden to step aside as the party’s presidential nominee, CNN reported.

“The stakes could not be higher. We cannot unsee President Biden’s disastrous debate performance. We cannot ignore or dismiss the valid questions raised since that night,” Welch was quoted as having said in a Washington Post op-ed.

“I understand why President Biden wants to run. He saved us from Donald Trump once and wants to do it again,” Welch continued. “But he needs to reassess whether he is the best candidate to do so. In my view, he is not. For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race.”

Welch said that Vice President Kamala Harris “a capable, proven leader” and added the party has “other electable, young, energizing Democratic governors and senators in swing states.”

Welch’s comments make him the 10th congressional Democrat to call on Biden to step aside, with the rest to date being his former colleagues in the House.

One of the lawmakers who have called on Biden to step down is Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who did so on Monday.

“Well, look, I think he should step aside. I think it’s become clear that he’s not the best person to carry the Democratic message,” Smith, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, told CNN in an interview, adding, “And here’s the thing. We have an incredibly strong message and record to run on.”

Smith added that he is in favor of having Vice President Kamala Harris at the top of the ticket.

“Personally, I think Kamala Harris would be a much better, stronger candidate and because she is, constitutionally, is second. That’s the way it’s supposed to work,” he said, noting he does not think Biden should resign before his term is up.

Smith is one of four Democrats who reportedly said during a phone call on Sunday that they believe Biden should step aside to allow someone else to be the party’s nominee for president. The others were Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York, Mark Takano of California and Joe Morelle of New York.

On Tuesday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) became the latest Democrat to call on Biden to withdraw from the presidential race.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet on Tuesday became the first Democratic senator to publicly say he doesn’t believe Biden is capable of winning reelection, though he stopped short of calling for Biden to withdraw.

“Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House,” Bennet told CNN.

Welch’s call on Biden to withdraw from the race was made public just after Axios reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is privately signaling to donors that he's open to a Democratic presidential ticket that isn't led by Biden.

A Schumer spokesman declined to comment.

The President clarified last Friday that he is staying in the presidential race and has no plans to withdraw despite the debate.

Speaking at a rally in Wisconsin, Biden said, “They’re trying to push me out of the race. Well let me say this as clearly as I can: I'm staying in the race. I'll beat Donald Trump again.”

On Monday, Biden again stressed his belief that he could defeat Trump in the November election, and cited his previous defeat of Trump in the 2020 race.

“I beat him last time. I will beat him this time,” Biden told MSNBC.