Biden says he was sick during debate, asserts only 'Lord Almighty' can drive him out of presidential race

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Biden says he was sick during debate, asserts only 'Lord Almighty' can drive him out of presidential race

Saturday, 06 July 2024 | PTI | Washington

Biden says he was sick during debate, asserts only 'Lord Almighty' can drive him out of presidential race

US President Joe Biden has dismissed concerns about his health and doubts about his re-election bid in November, brushing off a poor performance in the presidential debate as a "bad episode" and insisting that only “the Lord almighty” could persuade him to exit the race.

Biden, 81, said this on Friday in a television interview, a week after his disastrous debate performance in Atlanta against his Republican rival Donald Trump, following which some of his own Democratic Party leaders started urging him to step down and his approval rating plummeted.

In the 22-minute high-stakes interview on ABC News aimed at quelling a burgeoning rebellion in the Democratic party, Biden, who is seeking a second term, said he had “a bad night” and he was "exhausted” and "sick” during his first presidential debate with Trump.

He asserted that only the "Lord Almighty" could make him drop out of the race to win the November 5 election.

He claimed that he is “running the world” and no one is “more qualified” to be president.

Asked whether he would be willing to have an independent cognitive evaluation and release the results to the American people, Biden said: “Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I've had tests. Everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, I'm running the world."

The president said in the interview that he was “sick” before the debate. Asked whether it was a bad episode or a sign of a more serious condition, Biden dismissed those concerns.

"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 a bad night," Biden said during his first interview after the debate, adding that his top party leadership are asking him to stay in the race.

"Because I was sick. I was feeling terrible. Matter of fact the docs (doctors are) with me. I asked if they did a COVID test because they were trying to figure out what was wrong. They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, a virus. I didn't. I just had a really bad cold," he said and reiterated multiple times that he was running for the presidency.

Blaming himself for the bad debate night in Atlanta, Biden said, "Yeah, look. The whole way I prepared, nobody's fault but mine. I prepared what I usually would do sitting down as I did come back with foreign leaders or the National Security Council for explicit detail," adding that Trump "lied 28 times" during the debate.

Biden said none of the major Democratic party leaders have asked him to drop out and asserted that he would withdraw only if the "Lord Almighty" asked him to.

“If the Lord Almighty came down and said 'Joe, get out of the race,' I'd get out of the race. The Lord Almighty's not coming down,” he added. The president tried to avoid questions on both his mental fitness and cognitive tests.

"Do you dispute that there have been more lapses, especially in the last seven months?” Biden was asked.

"Can I run the 100 in 10 flat? No. But I'm still in good shape," he responded.

“Are you more frail?” he was asked. "No. Come keep my schedule," he said.

Biden alleged that Trump is a pathological liar.

Asked by the interviewer whether he was being honest with himself about his ability to beat Trump, Biden said, “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

He pointed to previous polls that showed he couldn't win in 2020 as proof and subsequent down-ballot elections, denying extensive polling that reflects a race where he is trailing.

In a reaction to Biden's interview, Indian American Congressman Ro Khanna, according to The New York Times, said he expected “complete transparency” from the White House and a willingness to answer “many legitimate questions” from the news media and voters about the president's abilities.

“He has to earn that trust, and that requires more than one interview,” Khanna was quoted as saying by the daily.

ABC News said it offered a similar one-on-one interview to Trump, 78, but the former president declined.

Earlier during a rally in the battleground state of Wisconsin, Biden asserted that he is in the race and will win the election again.

"We had a little debate last week. Can't say it was my best performance. But ever since then, there's been a lot of speculation. What's Joe going to do? Is he going to stay in the race? Is he going to drop out? What's he going to do? Well, here's my answer. I am running and going to win again," Biden told his cheering supporters.

"...Some folks don't seem to care who you voted for, well, guess what? They're trying to push me out of the race. Well, let me say this as clearly as I can. I'm staying in the race. I'll beat Donald Trump. I beat him in 2020. And by the way, we're going to do it again in 2024."

Biden also took this opportunity to address the issue of his advancing age.

"You probably also noticed a lot of discussion about my age. I keep seeing all those stories about I'm being too old. Let me say something. I wasn't too old to create over 15 million new jobs to make sure 21 million Americans are insured under the Affordable Care Act; to beat Big Pharma, the first firm to ever do that, and lower the cost of it to USD 35 a season,” he said.

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