Joe Biden: Key points from high-level interview with ABC TV

JBiden, responding to questions about whether he has the mental and physical stamina to serve another term as president, argued in a much-discussed television interview Friday, “I had a bad night.”

In a pre-recorded interview that aired Friday evening, the 81-year-old president told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he was sick, tired, and had not prepared well for last week’s presidential debate with Donald Trump.

Biden’s performance was so poor that some Democrats, including Democratic members of Congress, are calling for him to drop out of the race. But so far he has vowed to stay in the race.

Here are some key points:


  1. 1. Biden blames illness for his debate performance

    “I was sick, I felt really bad,” Biden said, adding that a doctor tested him for the coronavirus, but it appeared he just had a bad cold.

    “It was a bad episode. There’s no indication of anything serious,” Biden said.

    He also blamed his opponent Trump, who spent much of the debate spreading misinformation. “I let that distract me. I realized I wasn’t in control.”

    After a week of blame-game among Washington insiders over who on Biden’s staff could be blamed for poorly preparing the president for the debate, Biden also wasted no time defending his staff.

    “The way I prepared was nobody’s fault, it was my fault. It was no one else’s fault, it was my fault.”


  2. 2. He refused to commit to an independent cognitive assessment

    “I get a full neurological exam every day,” Biden said, adding that his work as president and during the campaign was essentially a cognitive test. “I get a full physical exam.”

    But when asked if he had undergone any specific cognitive tests or checked with a neurologist, Biden said: “No, nobody said I had to do that … they said I was fine.”

    “Doctors are with me wherever I go. There is a constant evaluation of whatever I am doing. If something is wrong, they don’t hesitate to tell me,” he said.

    Asked if he disagreed with suggestions that he had missed more in recent months, Biden said: “Could I run 110 flat? No. But I’m still in good shape.”

    Asked if he was getting “more frail” at age 81, Biden said: “No. Mind my schedule.”


  3. 3. He insisted on staying in the race

    Biden said he had spoken to leading Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries and Jim Clyburn, and “they all said I should stay in the race.” He responded to hypothetical questions about what he would do if asked to step down. “They’re not going to do that,” he said. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

    “See, I mean, if God Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I might get out of the race — God Almighty isn’t coming down.”

    He refused to answer repeated questions about what would happen if Democrats pressured him to withdraw the nomination: “I’m not going to answer that question. That’s not going to happen,” Biden said. Four members of Congress have called on him to withdraw the nomination, and many others have expressed concerns.

    Asked if he thought winning the 2024 race would be more difficult than winning the 2020 race against Trump, Biden said: “No, when you’re running against a deranged liar … All the pollsters I talked to told me it’s a toss-up … I don’t think there’s anybody more qualified to be president and win this race than I am.”

    Asked if he was being honest with himself about his ability to beat Trump, Biden said: “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”


  4. 4. Biden says internal poll doesn’t match low approval numbers

    When Stephanopoulos told Biden, “I never see a president with 36% approval getting re-elected,” the president responded: “Our polls don’t show that.”

    He also said he doesn’t believe polling data is as accurate as it once was.


  5. 5. The interview did not fully address concerns about Biden’s candidacy

    There were no major missteps or gaffes in this debate, as was the case with Biden’s poor performance. The president repeated his points repeatedly in some of his answers, but did not lose his train of thought or appear confused.

    But even on a night that clearly went much better for Biden, the 81-year-old president looked and sounded like an 80-year-old man, and how Biden’s Democratic allies and his voters view his frailty remains an open question.

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