Biden Remains Defiant as America Reacts to Pivotal TV Interview – Live Coverage

Biden Remains Defiant as America Reacts to Pivotal TV Interview – Live Coverage

President Joe Biden traveled to Wisconsin, a key battleground state for the 2024 election, on Friday for a campaign rally and a critical interview with ABC News. This event is seen as pivotal for his candidacy and presidency, especially after a rough debate performance last week. Biden aimed to reassure Democratic voters in the state that he is still the right person for the job.

During the rally, Biden energetically discussed the policies his administration has implemented and warned of the risks another Trump presidency would bring. Addressing concerns about his candidacy and fitness to serve, Biden was emphatic. “Now you probably heard we had a little debate last week,” Biden quipped. “Can’t say it was my best performance. But ever since then, there’s been a lot of speculation. What’s Joe gonna do? Is he gonna 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 gonna win again,” he declared.

Biden’s voice resonated through the Madison middle school where he spoke, and the crowd frequently erupted in cheers for “four more years.” His delivery, aided by teleprompters, was strong, especially compared to last week’s debate. However, any stumbles by the 81-year-old are being scrutinized more closely due to concerns about his ability to lead for another term.

Outside the campaign event, Biden was met with a large crowd, some of whom were calling on him to step aside. One sign read, “Save your legacy, drop out.” In response, a fired-up Biden said, “Let me say this as clearly as I can, I am staying in the race. I will beat Donald Trump.”

The week following the debate has been one of the most critical periods for Biden’s presidency, with many top Democrats watching him closely. Biden is under growing pressure to publicly prove his mental and physical fitness by answering questions and making unscripted remarks. He had a high-stakes chance to do so during an interview with ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos in Madison.

The first excerpts of the interview aired on “World News Tonight,” and the full interview was broadcast in a prime-time ABC network special on Friday evening. Sources familiar with conversations earlier in the week said Biden privately acknowledged the critical nature of these few days for his re-election prospects. While he still views himself as the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump, he signaled to one ally that he is keeping an “open mind” about his path forward.

Publicly, the White House rejects the notion that Biden is considering any path besides re-election. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated on Thursday that Biden is “absolutely not” stepping down. During a meeting with Democratic governors at the White House, Biden vowed to continue his presidential campaign, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom, one of more than 20 Democratic governors who met with Biden, said, “I was really proud to be with Joe Biden last night. He started the meeting — the first words out of his mouth: ‘I’m all in’.” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, another Democrat speculated as a possible replacement, posted, “Joe Biden is our nominee. He is in it to win it and I support him.”

However, more than a half dozen governors expressed concern over Biden’s debate performance and the resulting fallout inside the party. According to sources, one governor told Biden flat-out that people didn’t think he was up to the task of running, and another asked him to lay out the path forward.

Meanwhile, some congressional Democrats have publicly called for Biden to step aside. Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett was the first lawmaker to say Biden should leave the race, followed by Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona. They cited the “precarious” state of Biden’s campaign and concerns that his performance could cost him the election against Trump.

Despite these calls, Democratic leaders like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina have stayed in lockstep with the president.

In his 22-minute ABC News interview, Biden dismissed calls for a cognitive test and reiterated that he is the right candidate to beat Donald Trump. He attributed his poor debate performance to exhaustion and a “really bad cold.” “I was exhausted. I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of my preparing. It was a bad night,” he told Stephanopoulos.

The interview was closely watched as it was a departure from Biden’s usual reliance on a teleprompter. Biden said he was distracted by Trump talking when his microphone was shut off during the debate. “I let it distract me. I realized that I just wasn’t in control,” he admitted.

Biden’s efforts to course-correct from his debate performance have not yet quelled internal party frustrations. Some Democratic senators are discussing whether to ask Biden to exit the race, with Sen. Mark Warner reaching out to fellow senators to discuss the situation. The top Democrats on House committees are also planning to meet to discuss the situation.

At the campaign rally in Wisconsin, Biden acknowledged his subpar debate performance but insisted, “I am running, and I’m going to win again.” He tried to flip the questions about his age, asking the crowd whether he was “too old” to have passed gun legislation, created jobs, and helped ease student loan debt.

While there were signs of discontent at the rally, many supporters were pleased with Biden’s energy. Rebecca Green, a 52-year-old environmental scientist from Madison, said, “We were just waiting for him to come out strong and fighting again, the way we know he is.”

As Biden fights to salvage his campaign, the Democratic Party remains divided on whether he should stay or go. Lawmakers are deeply frustrated by his campaign’s response to the crisis, and discussions about his future continue to flare privately.

Source: ABC News, AFP, AP, Reuters

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