A Newly Energized Joe Biden Addresses The Elephant In The Room

At a rally in North Carolina on Friday, President Joe Biden brought the energy that Democrats were hoping to see at Thursday night’s catastrophic debate with former President Donald Trump.

Speaking in a clear, booming voice over a crowd of supporters, Biden acknowledged the elephant in the room: His stumble-filled debate performance alarmed voters, many of whom were already concerned about his age and cognitive health, and triggered mass panic in his party.

“I know I’m not a young man,” Biden, 81, said. “I don’t walk as easy as I used to, I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to, I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”

It was as clear an admission of failure as Biden’s supporters could ask for.

“I know, like many of Americans know, when you get knocked down, you get back up,” the president said.

President Joe Biden speaks with the energy that was missing at Thursday's debate.
President Joe Biden speaks with the energy that was missing at Thursday's debate. Allison Joyce via Getty Images

Biden also echoed what many of his surrogates emphasized Thursday night ― that Americans should be more concerned that Trump’s debate performance was packed with outright lies about his record on crime, the economy and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

“My guess is he set ― I mean it sincerely ― a new record for the most lies told in a single debate,” Biden said.

“His biggest lie ― he lied about how he had nothing to do with the insurrection on January 6,” Biden continued. “We all saw with our own eyes. We watched it on television. We saw thousands, at his direction, attack the Capitol.”

However, it will likely take more than one energetic rally to undo the concern brought on by the debate, which took place in a closed studio without the usual live audience. Biden will get another chance to debate Trump on Sept. 10 in an event hosted by ABC News, which hasn’t yet revealed details about the event’s rules, location, staging and format.

Midway through Thursday’s debate, spokespeople for the Biden campaign told reporters the president was recovering from a cold.

Pundits expressed grave concern about Biden’s electoral chances in the wake of the debate, with several speculating about the possibility of him dropping out. Vice President Kamala Harris sparred with an alarmed Anderson Cooper on his CNN show Thursday.

“I mean, you can’t honestly say ― I mean, can you say that you are not concerned at all, having watched the president’s performance tonight?” Cooper asked Harris.

“It was a slow start,” Harris acknowledged. “That’s obvious to everyone. I’m not going to debate that point. I’m talking about the choice in November, about one of the most important elections in our collective lifetime.”