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Stubborn Biden dismisses calls to quit in key TV interview

Courtesy: Dawn News/AFP

US President Joe Biden fended off questions about his mental fitness and electability in a TV interview on Friday meant to draw a line under a disastrous debate performance that triggered calls for him to quit his re-election bid.

With rebellion brewing among some nervous Democratic voters, lawmakers and donors, the one-to-one with the ABC network was hyped as the most consequential of the 81-year-old president’s long career.

The Trump campaign mockingly posted on social media that “Biden sounds great” as the broadcast went out, before concluding the president “is in denial and in decline.”

The interview came after Biden was hesitant and often incoherent during the debate against Trump in Atlanta, leading to panic within his party and calls for him to pull out of the race.

growing Democratic clamour for a conversation on picking a new candidate, asking Biden if he would step down if convinced he couldn’t beat Trump. “Well, it depends. If the Lord Almighty comes down and tells me that, I might do that,” he said.

Biden added that he had not watched the debate afterwards, saying “I don’t think I did, no.” And he dismissed the idea that his poor performance was a sign of a more serious health problem.

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

David Axelrod, a top aide in Barack Obama’s White House and an occasional thorn in the side of the Biden administration, said the interview showed a president “dangerously out of touch” with concerns over his fitness for office.

“Four years ago at this time, he was 10 points ahead of Trump [in polls]. Today, he is six points behind,” Axelrod posted on X.

The White House has announced Biden will visit Pennsylvania this weekend before holding a press conference during the NATO summit in Washington next week.

1- Header image: US President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One in Madison, Wisconsin on July 5. — AFP

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