President Biden says ‘I was exhausted’ during Trump debate: NPR

In this photo provided by ABC, President Biden speaks with George Stephanopoulos in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 5.

In this photo provided by ABC, President Biden speaks with George Stephanopoulos in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 5.

Handout/Getty Images/Getty Images North America


hide caption

switch caption

Handout/Getty Images/Getty Images North America

MADISON, Wis. — President Biden told ABC News on Friday that he had “a bad episode” and a “bad night” as he explained last week’s abysmal debate performance that has led his fellow Democrats to call on him to withdraw from the presidential race.

“I was exhausted,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, saying there was “no indication of any serious condition.”

Biden, 81, said before the debate that he was sick. “I felt terrible,” he said. Medical tests, he said, showed he had a “really bad cold.”

Biden has resisted calls to withdraw from the race. Earlier, Biden delivered a defiant speech at a rally where he shook dozens of hands and addressed speculation swirling about whether he would drop out of the race. “This is my answer: I’m in and I’m going to win again.”

President Biden speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday.

President Biden speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday.

Scott Olson/Getty Images


hide caption

switch caption

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Biden says Democratic leaders are telling him to stay in the White House.

Biden later told reporters that he had the support of elected Democratic leaders from across the country. Biden said he had spoken to at least 20 congressional leaders and every Democratic governor and that they had told him to stay in the race.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., was working to get a group of Democratic senators to ask Biden to leave the campaign. Responding to that report, Biden said, “Mark Warner, as I understand it, is the only one who is considering that.”

But Warner wasn’t the only one making his voice heard. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey on Friday urged Biden to evaluate whether he was the party’s best hope to defeat former President Donald Trump. Biden said, “Healey didn’t say anything when I was in the room.” Biden met with the nation’s Democratic governors this week.

President Biden's motorcade arrives at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin on July 5.

President Biden’s motorcade arrives at a campaign rally at Sherman Middle School in Madison, Wisconsin on July 5.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images/AFP


hide caption

switch caption

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images/AFP

And Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have decided to hold a virtual meeting Sunday with top Democrats on House committees, a source familiar with the planning said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.

Biden told ABC he did not watch the debate afterward

The impromptu interview became extremely important to Biden and a key test of his cognitive abilities. It could either quell or amplify calls for Biden to step aside.

“I think it’s very important to a lot of donors and to a lot of elected officials that you hear about in the media,” Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) told NPR.

But it’s unclear how broadly the interview will resonate with voters. Polls have long shown that voters are concerned about Biden’s age, but whether the debate — let alone the interview — will move the needle remains to be seen.

“What I’m hearing from voters on the ground is that many of them may not even know this interview is happening on a Friday,” Williams said.

When asked by Stephanopoulos if he watched the debate afterwards, Biden replied, “I don’t think so, no.”

Leave a Comment