Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi has “it’s up to the president to decide” if he should stay in the race for the White House despite President Joe Biden’s insistence that he is still running, showing how unsettled the question remains among prominent Democrats and Capitol Hill.

“We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short,” Ms Pelosi said on MSNBC on Wednesday.

Ms Pelosi has been widely watched for signals of how top Democrats are thinking about Mr Biden’s candidacy, and her comments will be viewed as important for the party’s direction as they weigh possible alternatives in the campaign against Republican Donald Trump.

Because of her powerful position as the former House of Representatives speaker and proximity to Mr Biden as a trusted long-time ally of his generation, she is seen as one of the few Democratic leaders who could have influence on the president’s thinking.

Pressed on whether she personally wants Mr Biden to run in the election, she said: “I want him to do whatever he decides to do.”

Biden Tariffs
President Joe Biden has insisted he will not drop out of the race for the White House (Evan Vucci/AP)

The lack of a full endorsement from Ms Pelosi for Mr Biden’s continued campaign is what politicians are likely to hear most, suggesting that, despite the president’s insistence he is not stepping aside, his party still has questions.

Ms Pelosi said Mr Biden “has been a great president” who is beloved and respected by House Democrats.

The Californian said she watched as he delivered a forceful speech at the Nato summit on Tuesday, and while foreign leaders are in Washington this week she encouraged Democrats “let’s just hold off” with any announcements about his campaign.

“Whatever you’re thinking, either tell somebody privately but you don’t have to put that out on the table until we see” how it goes “this week”, she said.

Democrats have been reeling over the question of whether to continue backing Mr Biden after his poor showing in the presidential debate with Mr Trump last month and his campaign’s lacklustre response to their pleas that the 81-year-old show voters he is up for another four-year term.