US Politics

‘Only God’: Biden refuses to drop out of race in TV interview

Author: Editors Desk, Brielle Burns, Reporter Source: News Corp Australia Network:
July 6, 2024 at 09:53

A defiant Joe Biden has said only the “Lord almighty” can make him drop out of the presidential race, as he refused to get an independent medical assessment in a new TV interview

The president sat down with presenter ABC George Stephanopoulos in Wisconsin on Friday (US time) for what has been hyped as arguably the most consequential interview of his career, amid mounting calls for the 81-year-old to drop his re-election bid. 

When asked whether he would step down if he believed he could not beat Donald Trump, Mr Biden said he would only do so if God intervened.

“If the Lord Almighty came down and said ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race,” Mr Biden said.

“The Lord Almighty’s not coming down.”

Mr Stephanopoulos agreed but pressed “if you are told reliably from your allies, and your friends and supporters in the Democratic Party, in the House, in the Senate that they’re concerned you’re going to lose the House and the Senate if you stay in, what will you do?”

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


Biden refuses an independent medical evaluation

Addressing concerns about his health, Mr Biden said he has doctors travelling with him and undertakes an “ongoing assessment”. 

“They don’t hesitate to tell me if something is wrong,” he explained.

When asked if he has undertaken a specialised cognitive test and an exam by a neurologist, Mr Biden said: “No, no one said I had to.

“They said I’m good.”

Mr Stephanopoulos questioned if the president would be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation, including neurological and cognitive tests, and publicly release the results.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day, every day I have that test, everything I do,” Mr Biden replied. 

“Not only on my campaign, but I’m running the world.”

Elsewhere in the interview, he was asked if he has experienced more lapses, particularly in the last several months. 

“Can I run the 100 in 10 flat? No, but I’m still in good shape,” Mr Biden replied, dodging the question.

“Are you more frail?” asked Mr Stephanopoulos.

“No,” Mr Biden said simply.

Mr Biden speaks to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, a former aide to Bill Clinton. Picture: ABC News
Mr Biden speaks to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, a former aide to Bill Clinton. Picture: ABC News

“Can you serve effectively the next four years?”

Mr Stephanopoulos said many questioned whether Mr Biden could effectively hold office for the next four years, prompting the president to launch into a list of achievements. 

“George. I’m the guy that put NATO together, the future. No one thought I could expand it,” Mr Biden said in a raspy voice.

“I’m the guy that shut Putin down. No one thought could happen. I’m the guy that put together a South Pacific initiative with AUKUS. I’m the guy that got 50 nations out-- not only in Europe, outside of Europe as well to help Ukraine.”

Noting the work would take a toll, Mr Stephanopoulos asked whether Mr Biden had the mental and physical capacity to continue.

“I believe so,” said Mr Biden. “I wouldn’t be runnin’ if I didn’t think I did.”


Debate was “nobody’s fault but mine”

Addressing last week’s presidential debate with Mr Trump, Mr Biden admitted he had a “bad night” and took full responsibility. 

“Yeah, look,” Mr Biden said. 

“The whole way I prepared, nobody’s fault, mine. Nobody’s fault but mine.

“I – I prepared what I usually would do sitting down as I did come back with foreign leaders or National Security Council for explicit detail. 

“And I realised – part way through that, you know, all – I get quoted the New York Times had me down, ten points before the debate, nine now, or whatever the hell it is. 

“The fact of the matter is, what I looked at is that he also lied 28 times.

“I couldn’t – I mean, the way the debate ran, not – my fault, nobody else’s fault, no one else’s fault.”

“Was this a bad episode or the sign of a more serious condition?” Mr Stephanopoulos asked.

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


Mr Biden speaks to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. Picture: ABC News

Mr Biden said he was sick during the debate, suffering from a bad cold.

“I was feeling terrible,” he explained.

“As a matter of fact, the docs with me I asked if they did a Covid test, they were trying to figure out what’s wrong. They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, you know, a virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.”

When asked if he has watched the debate back, Mr Biden replied: “I don’t think I did, no”.

Excerpts of the TV interview were originally expected to air over the weekend, but with anticipating soaring, ABC switched its plan and will instead broadcast the interview in full on Friday night in the US.


“We’re doomed”: Democrats react

One House Democrat told NBC News the interview showed the president was “completely out of touch with reality and insulated from truth”.

“It made me sad,” they told the outlet. “I’ll be breaking my silence soon.”

Another told NBC “we’re doomed”. 

It comes after Democrat Mike Quigley called for Mr Biden to step aside shortly before the interview aired.

“Mr President, your legacy is set. We owe you the greatest debt of gratitude,” he 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.”

Mr Quigley is the fourth Democratic member of the House of Representatives to call on Mr Biden to end his re-election bid.

Several major newspapers and a raft of Democratic-supporting political commentators has also called on him to step aside. 

Wealthy Disney heiress and Democratic supporter Abigail Disney, told CNBC she plans to withhold donations to the party until Biden drops out, saying bluntly that “if Biden does not step down the Democrats will lose” in November.

“This is realism, not disrespect,” she said.


Biden declares he’s all in ahead of interview

Ahead of the interview, a defiant Mr Biden told supporters on Friday he would stay in the White House race and beat Mr Trump.

Appearing at a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, Mr Biden delivered an energetic speech, unequivocally declaring, “I’m staying in the race. I’ll beat Donald Trump.” 

As supporters cheered, he went on the attack against his rival.

“Let’s focus on what really matters,” Mr Biden said, reading from teleprompters. 

“We’re running against the biggest liar and the biggest threat … to our democracy in American history – that’s not hyperbole.”

The Biden campaign has pushed back hard on any suggestion the president may withdraw, and just hours before the ABC interview, released an aggressive campaign travel schedule for the rest of July.


Biden addressed supporters during a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Wisconsin. Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP
Biden addressed supporters during a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Wisconsin. Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

Latest gaffe

The high stakes interview comes after Mr Biden stumbled over his words in a radio interview with Philadelphia’s WURD on Thursday, appearing to describe himself as a black woman.

“By the way, I’m proud to be, as I said, the first vice president, first black woman … to serve with a black president. Proud to be involved of the first black woman on the Supreme Court. There’s so much that we can do because, look … we’re the United States of America,” he said.


Biden seemingly mixed himself up with his Vice President Kamala Harris. Picture: Mandel NGAN / AFP
Biden seemingly mixed himself up with his Vice President Kamala Harris. Picture: Mandel NGAN / AFP

Mr Biden appeared to be talking about his appointment of Kamala Harris as the United States’ first black female vice president.

Confusingly, he himself was previously vice president, which is likely what he was referring to when he said “to serve with a black president”.

The reference to the Supreme Court is Ketanji Brown-Jackson, the first black female justice, who was appointed by Biden in 2022.

– With AFP

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