Biden’s ‘make or break’ interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopolous could last just 15 minutes

Joe Biden’s make-or-break interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopolous appears poised to fall short in more ways than one – given the president has reportedly set aside only around 15 minutes for the hotly-anticipated chat.

Biden is set to sit down with the news anchor in Wisconsin on Friday, with parts of the interview airing first on Friday’s edition of World News Tonight, before airing in full on an 8pm primetime special and again on This Week on Sunday.

But according to The Daily Beast, Stephanopolous could get as little as 15 minutes with the president, who is attempting to claw back support after a disastrous debate performance last week.

Sources told the outlet that there is “deep concern inside ABC News’ upper echelons” about the length of the interview, which is supposed to offer insight into the president’s mental state and capability to continue on the Democratic party’s ticket.

Meanwhile, another source said that the interview could last around 20 minutes, with senior network figures involved in calls on Wednesday to prepare questions for the shortest possible time in case attempts to speak with the president for longer failed.

ABC News has not publicly specified how long the interview will be.

The Biden campaign denied the suggestion that the interview would be just 15 minutes, with a White House spokesperson telling The Daily Beast: “False. The interview will be longer.”

A previous The Associated Press report described the interview as an “extended” encounter between Biden and Stephanopolous.

Joe Biden’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous could be worryingly short, according to a report (Getty Images)
Joe Biden’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous could be worryingly short, according to a report (Getty Images)

Sources close to Biden told the Politico Playbook newsletter that the president is “preparing for tough questions” in Friday’s interview and is determined to present himself as sharp, alert and able to deal with questions.

The interview is being pitted as a critical test for Biden, who is facing a growing chorus of calls to step down, including from within his own party, following his debate performance last week where he muddled his words and appeared to lose his train of thought on multiple occasions.

While insisting publicly that he has no intentions of dropping out of the race, insiders have said Biden has privately acknowledged that the next stretch of days including the ABC News interview is critical.

The New York Times reported that the president admitted that he will have to end his re-election campaign if he cannot convince voters that he is up for the job.

White House senior deputy press secretary Andrew Bates quickly rubbished the report, telling The Independent “that claim is absolutely false.”

“The President is and will remain our party’s nominee, and Vice President Harris is proud to be his running mate, and looks forward to serving at his side for four more years,” Brian Fallon, a campaign spokesman, added in a statement to CNN. “Reports suggesting they or the campaign are considering alternative scenarios are patently false.”

But many Democrats and the American public are unconvinced that Biden will or should remain as the Democratic party’s nominee.

On Tuesday, the president blamed his poor debate performance on jet lag, telling reporters that he “wasn’t very smart” for “travelling around the world a couple of times” before the event. Aides also claimed that he was suffering from a cold.

In a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was grilled about how the president was fit to campaign the day after he was said to be suffering from a cold and jet lag.

“Have you ever got a cold,” Jean-Pierre responded to the reporter. She later suggested that Biden traveled and then got a cold, possibly linking the two.

“That was my bad,” Jean-Pierre said of not discussing jet lag earlier.