Biden digs in despite lapses, alarming polls, doubts: 6 takeaways from ABC interview (2024)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Bidendismissed concerns about his mental fitness Friday and rejected calls to drop out of the 2024 election as he pushed back at detractors in perhaps the most consequential television interview of his presidency.

Biden, in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that aired on primetime television, reiterated he won't withdraw from the race following his disastrous debate last week, downplaying his performance as a "bad night" because of fatigue and a "really bad cold."

The 22-minute interview was Biden's first on television since his dismal debate performance in which the incumbent president struggled to complete thoughts, finish sentences and rebut claims made by former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Biden digs in despite lapses, alarming polls, doubts: 6 takeaways from ABC interview (1)

Here are six takeaways from the interview, which was taped during Biden's campaign visit Friday afternoon to Madison, Wisconsin.

Biden says he won't even entertain exiting race

Biden dug in as Stephanopoulos repeatedly pressed Biden whether he would end his candidacy if Democratic congressional leaders came to him to convince him he can't defeat Trump in November.

"Well, if the Lord Almighty comes down and tells me to do that, I might do that," Biden said, later insisting that his Democratic allies aren't going to demand that he exit.

"I'm not going to answer that question. It's not going to happen," Biden said. "I've not seen what you're proposing."

Biden said he's seen concerns about his candidacy "from the press," but not heard it from most Democrats.

Five Democratic members of Congress have publicly called for Biden to drop out of the race. The Washington Post reported Friday that U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is working on assembling a group of Democratic senators to ask Biden to exit the presidential race

Biden won't commit to a cognitive test

Biden said he has not taken a neurological or cognitive test to measure his mental fitness, nor would he commit to an independent medical evaluation that includes such an exam.

"No, no one said I had to. They said I'm good," Biden said, adding that he takes a cognitive test "every single day" given the demands and responsibilities of being president.

More:Biden refuses to say whether he'd take independent cognitive test and make results public

"Everything I do, I have that test," Biden said. "Not only am I campaigning but I'm running the world."

Asked again whether he would take a cognitive test to assure Americans of his health, Biden again refused.

"Watch me. There's a lot of time left in this campaign. It's over 125 days."

Biden digs in despite lapses, alarming polls, doubts: 6 takeaways from ABC interview (2)

Biden says he doesn't believe polls showing him losing

Despite Trump leading Biden in virtually all national polls and in most battleground states Biden said he doesn't believe he's currently losing.

"I don't buy that," Biden said. "All the pollsters I talk to tell me it's a toss-up."

Biden also said he doesn't buy that his approval rating is as low as 36%, which some polls have found.

"I don't believe that's my approval rating. That's not what our polls show," he said.

Even before Biden's disastrous debate, Democrats were growing more nervous about a second Trump presidency because of polls showing Biden consistently behind the former president.

When asked whether he's being honest with himself about his ability to beat Trump, Biden responded: "Yes, yes, yes, yes.''

"Look, I remember them telling me the same thing in 2020 − the polls show I can't win," Biden said.

At the end of his interview, Biden gave an answer that is sure to upset his detractors on how he would feel in January if Trump wins the election.

“I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did as good a job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about," Biden said.

'I'm still in good shape,' Biden insists

Biden insisted that he's in good enough physical and mental condition to serve in the White House another four years.

"Can I run a hundred in 10 flat? No. But I'm still in good shape," said Biden, who spoke clearer than he did in the debate but still sounded hoarse at times.

Biden said he is not frail or in worse condition than when he entered the White House three and a half years ago.

"I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I did," he said about whether he can serve another four years, which would make him 86 years old at the end of his term.

Stephanopoulos asked if Biden was being honest with himself.

"Yes, I am. George, the last thing I want to do is not being able to meet that," Biden said.

Biden says he hasn't watched the debate

Biden said he hasn't watched his heavily criticized debate, which was now eight days ago.

"I don't think I did − no," Biden said.

Biden said his performance was "nobody's fault but mine," and that he prepared for it by going over material in "explicit detail," like he does for meetings with foreign leaders with his National Security Council.

Biden said he had trouble keeping up with all of Trump's lies.

Biden was asked about recent comments from former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling it a "legitimate question" to ask whether Biden's debate performance was a "bad episode" or a sign of a more serious "condition."

"It was a bad episode," Biden said. "No indication of a more serious condition. I was exhausted. I didn't listen to my instincts in terms of preparing. I had a bad night."

Biden digs in despite lapses, alarming polls, doubts: 6 takeaways from ABC interview (3)

Biden says recent travel made him tired because of 'really bad cold'

Biden was pressed how could have been tired from recent overseas travel − which he has claimed − when he returned to the United States 12 days before the debate took place.

"Because I was sick. I was feeling terrible," he said, adding that he felt so bad that he had his doctors test him for COVID and other viruses, which turned out negative. "They just said I had a really bad cold."

Biden spent the six days leading up to the debate at the Camp David presidential retreat preparing with top White House aides.

Reach Joey Garrison on X, formerly Twitter, @joeygarrison.

Biden digs in despite lapses, alarming polls, doubts: 6 takeaways from ABC interview (2024)
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