Biden Says Only ‘Lord Almighty’ Can Make Him Go as Dems Sharpen Axes

ABC News
ABC News

A defiant President Joe Biden told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Friday that last week’s debate was simply a “bad episode,” blaming his poor performance on exhaustion and not on any underlying condition.

Still, he refused to withdraw from the race despite a burgeoning movement from Democratic senators and congressman to push him out.

“If the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race,” Biden said. “The Lord Almighty’s not coming down.”

He also insisted that Democrats would not lose both the House and the Senate, even as his approval rating has dropped to the lowest stage of his presidency and his polling average is behind Donald Trump, according to FiveThirtyEight.

The interview did little to quell fears from those Democrats who have asked him to step aside, including Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), who told CNN after the interview that a fine performance on Friday could not make up for last week’s debate.

Nor did it stop the attacks from Trump’s campaign. “Biden is in denial and in decline,” Trump spokeswoman Karline Leavitt wrote on X.

Admitting he had a bad debate, Biden said, “I was exhausted… I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of preparing, and it was a bad night.”

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

Biden maintained that he was sick in the run-up to last week’s debate, telling Stephanopoulos that he was checked out by a doctor to see what the illness was before a debate performance that has thrown his viability as a candidate in question. He said on Friday it was just “a really bad cold.”

He appeared to contradict White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s press briefing on Wednesday, where she told reporters that Biden was not examined by a doctor. Jean-Pierre later told reporters on Friday that Biden had a “verbal check-in” with his doctor about his cold, but she did not indicate it was more detailed than that.

Biden also said that he was tested for COVID-19.

Still, Biden maintained he was cognitively capable—refusing to take a test to prove it—and remained the best candidate to beat perpetual liar Donald Trump.

The New York Times had me down at 10 points before the debate—9 now or whatever the hell it is,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is that when I looked at is that he also lied 28 times.”

Stephanopoulos pushed back, saying Biden’s struggles began before Trump even uttered a word.

“Well, I just had a bad night,” Biden said.

The ABC anchor pressed the president on Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)’s plan to corral a group of Democratic senators to meet with Biden and urge him to drop out, as reported by The Washington Post. “They don’t think you can win,” Stephanopoulos said.

“Mark is a good man,” Biden said. “Mark and I have a different perspective. I respect him.”

He also referenced an attempt by Warner to secure the Democratic nomination, though it was unclear if Biden was referring to Warner’s 2008 refusal to run or some Democrats’ attempt to convince him to run in 2020.

Despite that, Biden insisted that Democratic leaders he spoke to—including Speaker Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Biden ally Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)—urged him to stay in the race.

It came after each person has publicly addressed concerns about Biden’s viability, including Pelosi’s MSNBC interview on Tuesday; Jeffries’ reported plans for a call with Democrats on Sunday; and Clyburn’s openness to a “mini-primary” before next month’s Democratic National Convention.

Stephanopoulos ended the interview by asking Biden how he would feel if, after all of his posturing despite Democratic fears, he lost the election to Trump. Biden’s response: He gave it his best go.

“I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do,” Biden said. “That’s what this is about.”

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