Jul 06, 2024

Biden in first TV interview since debate denies medical condition: ‘It was a bad episode’

Posted Jul 06, 2024 11:00 AM
 President Joe Biden sat down for an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor and “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos in Wisconsin on the campaign trail on July 5, 2024. (Used with permission of ABC News)
President Joe Biden sat down for an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-anchor and “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos in Wisconsin on the campaign trail on July 5, 2024. (Used with permission of ABC News)

BY: JENNIFER SHUTT  Kansas Reflector

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday in his first televised interview since the presidential debate defended his reelection bid and rejected calls that he should step aside amid growing anxiety among some Democrats about his mental and physical state.

The 22-minute interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos came as some lawmakers and other prominent Democrats have said Biden should suspend his campaign and let someone else become the official nominee.

But Biden said that’s unnecessary, distilling his actions during the June 27 debate as simply a “bad night.”

“It was a bad episode, no indication of any serious condition,” Biden said. “I was exhausted. I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of preparing and it was a bad night.”

Biden refused to answer a question about what he would do if allies and friends in Congress urged him to leave the presidential campaign.

“I’m not going to answer that question. It’s not going to happen,” Biden said.

Members of Congress and Democratic governors have expressed concern with Biden remaining the presumptive nominee ever since he struggled to answer questions and had moments where he appeared confused during the first presidential debate.

Biden brushed aside Virginia Sen. Mark Warner’s plans to convene Democratic senators on Monday to discuss the future of Biden’s bid, which multiple news organizations reported Friday. Both chambers of Congress will return to Washington next week.

“Mark is a good man,” Biden said, before incorrectly claiming Warner “tried to get the nomination” for president — Warner in 2006 said he would not make a bid. “Mark and I have a different perspective. I respect him.”

Biden won’t commit to cognitive exam

Stephanopoulos pressed Biden during the interview on whether he really has the mental and physical stamina to remain president for another four years, and whether Biden is being honest with himself about his age.

“I believe so,” Biden said. “I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I did. Look, I’m running again because I think I understand best what has to be done to take this nation to a completely new level.”

Biden repeatedly declined to commit to taking a cognitive exam, suggesting that his schedule and daily work load are evidence enough he’s up to the task of being president.

“I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test, everything I do,” Biden said. “You know, not only am I campaigning, I’m running the world.”

Biden added that there are 125 days left in the campaign and that people should watch him in the months ahead to determine if he’s suitable to be reelected to the highest position in the government.

In Wisconsin, Biden points to Trump flubs

The ABC News interview aired just hours after Biden held a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, where he repeatedly criticized the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

This November’s presidential election, Biden said, should be about character, honesty and decency.

“Let’s focus on what really matters: We’re running against the biggest liar and the biggest threat to our democracy in American history,” Biden said. “That’s not hyperbole.”

Biden sought to shift the attention from his performance at the debate to flubs Trump has made over the years, including in a Fourth of July speech in 2019 when the former president said securing the airports was essential during the Revolutionary War.

“He said George Washington’s army won the Revolution by taking control of the airports from the British,” Biden said before crossing himself somewhat jokingly. “Talk about me misspeaking — airports from the British in 1776? It’s true, he is a stable genius.”

Trump, at the time, criticized the teleprompter for the comment.

Biden during the rally listed off what he views as his accomplishments, including canceling some student loan debt, nominating Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, signing a same-sex marriage bill, approving gun safety policies and working with Congress on a sweeping climate change law.

“I’m not letting one, 90-minute debate wipe out three-and-a-half years of work,” Biden said.

During the next four years, Biden said, whoever holds the Oval Office will appoint at least two new justices to the Supreme Court.

Should that be Trump, a recent ruling from the justices on presidential immunity could lead to a challenging time for the country, Biden said.

“For over two centuries, America’s been a free, democratic nation,” Biden said. “And I’ll be damned if in the year 2024 — just two years before our 250th anniversary as a nation — I’ll let Donald Trump take this away.”

Illinois Dem congressman says Biden should quit

Biden briefly spoke with reporters in the White House pool after the rally, saying he was determined to stay in the race and brushing aside calls from some lawmakers for him to withdraw.

When asked by a reporter about Warner suggesting Biden let another person take over as the party’s presidential candidate, Biden said Warner “is the only one considering that.”

Later in the evening, Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley said on MSNBC that Biden should step aside.

“Mr. President, your legacy is set. We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude,” Quigley said. “The only thing that you can do now to cement that for all time and prevent utter catastrophe is to step down and let someone else do this.”