Biden says ‘staying in the race’ as he scrambles to save candidacy, braces for ABC interview

MADISON, Wis.: Fighting to save his threatened re-election bid, President Joe Biden used a highly anticipated televised interview on Friday to repeatedly refuse to undergo an independent medical examination that would show voters he is fit for another term, blaming his disastrous performance in the discussion of a “bad episode” and said that “there are no indications of any serious condition”.
“Look, I have a cognitive test every day,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, referring to the tasks he faces daily in his tough job. “I had tests every day. Everything I do.”
Biden got through the 22-minute interview without any major mistakes that would have caused further damage to his imperiled candidacy, but seemed unlikely to completely quell concerns about his age and fitness for the next four years and his ability to defeat Donald Trump in November. .
That left Biden deadlocked against a not-insignificant faction of his party with Election Day four months away and the Democratic National Convention just weeks away. The drawn-out spectacle could benefit Biden’s efforts to stay in the race by limiting the party’s ability to replace him. But it could also distract from vital efforts to frame the 2024 race as a referendum on Trump.
During the interview, Biden insisted he is no more fragile than he was in 2020. He said he undergoes “ongoing evaluation” of his personal doctors and “they don’t hesitate to tell me” if something is wrong.
“Can I run 100 in 10 flats? Not. But I’m still in good shape,” Biden said.
As for the debate, “I didn’t listen to my instincts when it came to preparation,” Biden said.
Biden indicated that Trump’s interruptions — when he was standing just a few feet away — alarmed him: “I realized that even after I answered the question and they turned off his microphone, he was still yelling and I was distracted by that. I don’t blame it. But I realized I just couldn’t handle it.”
Asked how he could turn the race around, Biden said one key would be large, energetic rallies like the one he held in Wisconsin on Friday. When pressed that Trump routinely draws larger crowds, the president lashed out at his opponent.
“Trump is a pathological den,” Biden said, accusing Trump of botching the federal response to the COVID pandemic and failing to create jobs. “Have you ever seen anything that Trump did that benefited someone other than him?”
Biden also insisted he was the “most qualified” to lead Democrats against Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
The interview, coupled with a weekend of campaigning in battleground states in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, was part of Biden’s rigorous effort to recover from his debate last week. But intra-party frustration continued, with one influential Democratic senator working on a nascent proposal to encourage the president to drop out of the race, and Democrats quietly talking about where they would go next if the president dropped — or what it would mean if he did. remains in
“It’s President Biden’s decision to stay in the race or not.” Voters will choose our candidate, and they chose him,” said California Rep. Ro Khanna, a member of the Biden campaign’s national advisory board, which serves as a gathering of his top surrogates. “Now he has to prove to these voters that he’s up to the job, and that’s going to take more than just this one interview.”
Still, in Wisconsin, Biden focused on proving his ability to remain president. Asked if he would stop his campaign, he told reporters he “absolutely rules it out” and said he was “positive” he could serve another four years. At a rally in front of hundreds of supporters, he acknowledged his subpar performance in the debate but insisted: “I’m running and I’m going to win again.”
“I beat Donald Trump,” said an ebullient Biden as a crowd gathered at a local high school cheered and waved campaign signs. “I’ll beat him again.
Biden, who relied on a teleprompter for his remarks, attacked his presumptive Republican challenger almost immediately, taking a swipe at Trump by pointing out that the former president once said that “George Washington’s army won the revolution by taking control of the airports from the British “.
Laughing, Biden continued, “You’re talking about me the wrong way.”
In his speech, Biden tried to deflect questions about his age, asking the crowd if he was “too old” to pass gun laws, create jobs and help reduce student loan debt — while suggesting he would do more in a second . presidential term.
The ABC interview could be a watershed moment for Biden, who is under pressure to drop out of the campaign after his harsh debate performance against Trump fueled fears that the 81-year-old Democrat may not be able to serve another four years.
While private anxiety runs deep among Democratic lawmakers, fundraisers and strategists, most in the party have opened fire publicly as they wait to see if the president can restore trust with his weekend travel and how he handles the interview.
To that end, Sen. Mark Warner reached out to fellow senators this week to discuss whether to ask Biden to drop out of the race, according to three people familiar with the effort, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. The Virginia Democrat’s moves are notable given his chairmanship of the Senate Intelligence Committee and his reputation as a pro-Biden lawmaker who has working relationships with bipartisan colleagues. Warner’s efforts were first reported by The Washington Post.
The strategy remains fluid. One of the people familiar with Warner’s efforts said enough Senate Democrats are concerned enough about Biden’s ability to run for re-election to take some action, though there was no consensus yet on what that plan would be. Some of the Democratic senators could meet as early as Monday to comment on how to proceed.
The top Democrats on the House committees plan to meet virtually Sunday to discuss the situation, according to a person familiar with the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak.
Meanwhile, at least four members of the House of Representatives have called on Biden to resign, with Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois joining Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett and Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva in pushing for an alternative. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey stopped short of going that far, but said in a carefully worded statement Friday that Biden must now decide on the “best path forward.”
“In the coming days, I urge him to listen to the American people and carefully evaluate whether he remains our best hope of defeating Donald Trump,” Healey said.
There were also some signs of discontent at a Biden campaign rally on Friday, with one supporter on stage waving a “Pass the Torch Joe” sign as the president exited. His motorcade at the high school was also greeted by several people who encouraged him to keep going.
Others, however, were satisfied. Rebecca Green, a 52-year-old environmental scientist from Madison, said she finds Biden’s energy reassuring. “We were just waiting for him to come out strong and fight like we know him to again,” she said.
Many Democratic lawmakers listening to voters at home during the holiday week are deeply frustrated but divided on whether Biden should stay or go. Privately, debate among House Democrats heated up this week as reports spread that some were preparing public letters suggesting the president drop out of the race.
However, the resistance of other members of the House of Representatives was fierce.
“Any ‘leader’ signing the letter calling on President Biden to resign needs to get their priorities straight and stop undermining this incredible, real leader who has delivered real results for our country,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla. an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Biden appeared to bring his family closer together as he sought to prove that he is still the Democrats’ top choice for the November election.
Hunter Biden’s omnipresence in the West Wing since the debate has become an uncomfortable dynamic for many staffers, according to two Democrats close to the White House, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
For many employees, the sight of Hunter Biden, just weeks after his conviction on a felony firearm charge, was a disturbing and questionable choice, they said.
Biden’s re-election campaign is pushing forward with aggressive plans despite uncertainty. This month, he plans to combine his in-person events with a new $50 million advertising campaign that aims to capitalize on high-viewing moments like the Summer Olympics, which begin in Paris on July 26.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second in command Doug Emhoff are scheduled to travel to all the battleground states this month, with Biden in Pennsylvania on Sunday. In a memo released Friday, the campaign also emphasized that Biden would engage in “frequent off-the-cuff moments” — once a hallmark of the gregarious and affable politician’s career that has waned during his presidency.
For Biden, every moment is now crucial to rebuilding the lost confidence stemming from his shaky performance in Atlanta last week. However, the president continued to make missteps that did not help this effort.
In a hastily arranged meeting with more than 20 Democratic governors Wednesday night, Biden acknowledged he needed more sleep and cut back on evening events to rest for work, according to three people who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about the private meeting.
In an effort to explain the comments, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized that Biden “works around the clock” but “also recognizes the importance of achieving balance and taking care of himself.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who attended the meeting, said Biden “certainly engaged with us on difficult issues.”
“But on the other hand, it’s something that not only has to reassure Democratic governors, but it has to reassure the American people,” Beshear said.

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