Joe Biden

Defiant Biden says won’t leave race, doesn’t need cognitive test

Reuters

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Defiant Biden says won’t leave race, doesn’t need cognitive test

BIDEN. US President Joe Biden attends the first presidential debate hosted by CNN in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, June 27, 2024.

Marco Bello/Reuters

Biden cites 'a really bad cold' for his stumbling performance at the debate and exhaustion after two trips to Europe

WISCONSIN, USA – US President Joe Biden on Friday, July 5, said he did not need a cognitive test to determine whether he had a mental decline and dismissed calls from some Democrats that he should step aside to let a more vigorous candidate take on Republican Donald Trump.

A defiant Biden, scrambling to defuse the political crisis over his shaky debate performance, used a 22-minute ABC News interview to argue again that he had a bad night at the debate and that he was the right candidate to beat Donald Trump in the US presidential race.

Under persistent questioning from ABC interviewer George Stephanopoulos, Biden dismissed polls that showed him trailing Trump and said other polls have him in a better position.

Asked if he had undergone a specific cognitive test for a neurological exam, Biden, 81, said he had not had one and “no one said I had to.”

In his last physical exam on February 28 he was determined to be fit for duty but the president routinely makes verbal slipups. Some specialists on aging say he should have a cognitive test. (READ: Biden acknowledges age, bad debate performance but vows to beat Trump)

Asked if he would undergo a cognitive a test, he was dismissive, citing the rigors of the White House as sufficient.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test – everything I do (is a test),” Biden said.

In his first interview since the debate, Biden said he was the best candidate to take on Trump and that only “Lord almighty” could oust him from the race.

Biden cited “a really bad cold” for his stumbling performance at the debate and exhaustion after two trips to Europe.

“I was exhausted. I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of my preparing. It was a bad night,” he told George Stephanopoulos in the ABC interview.

The ABC interview was a departure from Biden’s heavy use of a teleprompter for his public remarks and as a result it was being closely watched.

Biden said he was distracted to some degree by Trump talking when his microphone was shut off during the debate.

“I let it distract me. I realized that I just wasn’t in control,” he said.

He said he could not run a foot race, “but I’m still in good shape.”

Before the interview, Biden offered a defiant defense of his determination to stay in the race.

“We had a little debate last week. Can’t say it was my best performance. But ever since then there’s been a lot of speculation. ‘What’s Joe gonna do? Is he gonna stay in the race? Is he gonna drop out?” Biden said. “Well here’s my answer: I am running and gonna win again.”

The president faced a potential new hurdle from within the party ranks, however. Senator Mark Warner, a well-respected moderate Democrat, is inviting Democratic senators to a meeting on Monday to discuss Biden’s campaign, a source told Reuters. The Washington Post reported Warner was seeking to ask the group to press Biden to exit the race.

The president told reporters later that he had spoken to at least 20 lawmakers and that they were telling him to stay. Asked about Warner calling for him to go, Biden said: “Well, Mark Warner, to my understanding, is the only one considering that.”

EXPLAINER: How Democrats could replace Biden as presidential candidate before November

EXPLAINER: How Democrats could replace Biden as presidential candidate before November

At the rally, Biden said he was thankful for the support of his vice president, Kamala Harris, who has emerged as a top choice to replace him were he to step aside as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer. One person at the Madison rally held up a sign behind Biden that said, “Pass the torch, Joe.”

Harris posted a supportive note on X, formerly Twitter, after Biden’s rally, saying the president had devoted his life to fighting for Americans. “In this moment, I know all of us are ready to fight for him,” she said.

But Illinois Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, on MSNBC, called on Biden to step aside and “let someone else do this” or risk “utter catastrophe.”

Biden knocked Trump’s intelligence and called him a liar, delivering stinging attacks that were absent when he appeared on the Atlanta debate stage. He referenced a comment in which Trump mistakenly said George Washington’s revolutionary army had taken over British airports in 1776. “He is a ‘stable genius,'” Biden said.

But he had sharper words for those in his party who have raised doubts about his ability to lead them to victory over Trump in the November 5th election.

“I’m the nominee of this party,” Biden said.

“They’re trying to push me out of the race. Well let me say this as clearly as I can: I’m staying in the race! I’ll beat Donald Trump. I will beat him again in 2020,” Biden said, getting the year wrong. He followed up by saying: “And by the way we’re going to do it again in 2024.”

Donors, business leaders, allies

A handful of donors and business leaders are making their displeasure with Biden’s candidacy known loudly, halting funding or looking at possible Democratic alternatives. Even some of Biden’s closest political allies, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have raised questions about his health.

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey issued a statement on Friday asking Biden to weigh the decision carefully, the rare Democratic governor not to issue a statement of support in recent days.

“President Biden saved our democracy in 2020 and has done an outstanding job over the last four years,” she said. “The best way forward right now is a decision for the president to make. Over the coming days, I urge him to listen to the American people and carefully evaluate whether he remains our best hope to defeat Donald Trump.”

Some public opinion polls have shown Trump widening a lead since the debate, while a Reuters/Ipsos poll found one in three Democrats want Biden to quit the race.

A group of business and civic leaders urged Biden to end his reelection bid in a letter to the White House on Friday, a day after its CEO said members would still back him if he continued to run, the Washington Post reported.

The White House has blamed a cold for Biden’s shaky performance and Biden himself cited jet lag from back-to-back trips to Europe.

Biden’s former chief of staff, Ron Klain, who led his preparation process ahead of the debate, pushed back against donors complaints. “We are the Democratic Party!” he wrote on X. Donors “don’t get to decide to oust a pro-labor pro-people President.”

Trump’s campaign and some of his allies have launched a pre-emptive political strike on Harris, moving swiftly to try to discredit her amid talk that she could eventually replace Biden as the Democrats’ nominee.

The Biden campaign has shown no signs of changing course, although the Trump team has overtaken it on fundraising.

The campaign announced it would spend $50 million on a media blitz for July, “including strategic investments around key events that draw in large and politically diverse audiences like the 2024 Olympic Games and the Republican National Convention.”

Trump, 78, who made multiple false statements during the debate in Atlanta, falsely claimed in a video that was circulated on social media that he had driven Biden out of the race. He made disparaging comments about Harris in the same video, which the Trump campaign stood by. – Rappler.com

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