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President Deflects Calls For Cognitive Tests


“Every day I have that test,” insisted Joe Biden tonight of the calls for a cognitive test in a damage control interview with George Stephanopoulos that aired in primetime. “Not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world, and that’s not hyperbole.”

Touting his legislative and foreign policy achievements, Biden consistently deflected a “Yes” or “No” answer about taking a test of his mental and intellectual abilities throughout the less than 30-minute interview.  

“Watch me … there’s a lot of time left in this campaign,” a healthier than usual looking Biden said in one response, shrugging off “these hypotheticals.”

Asked directly by Stephanopoulos if he still thought he could still beat the poll-topping Donald Trump, Biden quipped, “I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I could.”

Asked if he would leave the race if top Congressional Democratic leaders came to him and requested he move aside, Biden replied, I’m not going to answer that question, it’s not going to happen.”

Saying he did the best he could, Biden was also oddly cavalier — bordering on arrogant — when characterizing how he would feel and his responsibility if “congenital liar” Trump got back in the White House in November, instituting his openly oppressive and retaliatory aims.

Hyped over the past few days and teased earlier today with a clip on the network’s World News Tonight, the unscripted, live-to-tape sit-down is the big play by the White House to silence demands for the 81-year-old Biden to exit the race against Trump. A cataclysmic debate performance by Biden against his predecessor and current rival saw the incumbent stumbling, rambling and often unable to finish a sentence.

“I realized I just wasn’t in control,” Biden said near the top of the interview, blaming the former president’s alleged ranting when his microphone was muted, calling it a distraction.

While an increasingly stubborn Biden has declared again and again he will not step aside, aides and later the president himself claimed he had a cold the night of the debate, and that’s why it was a “bad night” for the candidate. In a clip released earlier Friday, Biden said “I was feeling terrible” in the days before the meet-up with Trump live on CNN

 “Matter of fact, the docs with me, I asked if they did a Covid test because they’re trying to figure out what was wrong,” the president added in explanation. “They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, you know, a virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.”

Cold or more, Biden’s wandering words and distant look have been seen before over the last 12 months by media and contributors. Of course, with the stresses of office, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, DC political wars and the rematch with the authoritarian Trump, it is no sin for the seasoned Biden to feel the weight of the office and job of leader of the Free World.

Tonight, with a more energetic stance than usual, Biden still had a few instances of tapering off in his own stories and sentences. The president tripped up on one occasion that might come back to haunt him. Biden made an error when he was asked about Sen. Mark Warner and his reported effort to mobilize other senators over the president getting out of the race, Biden said that  “Mark is a good man. He also tried to get the nomination too.” Sen. Warner never ran for president.

Originally set to be broadcast on Sunday after a weekend of teasing clips, Biden’s interview with ABC News was arranged on Tuesday. The interview with Stephanopoulos, rescheduled on July 3 for tonight, came amid frantic calls from donors, pundits and others that he had to sit for a major unscripted network one on one, in part to explain what happened but also to show that his debate performance was not a sign of cognitive decline.

But the announcement of the interview, as well as a press conference during next week’s NATO Summit, has not stopped the calls from some major donors in Hollywood and elsewhere as well as Congressional lawmakers that he get out of the race. Recent polls have suggested that Biden is falling further behind Trump were the elephant in the room when the president met with Democratic governors earlier this week to ease their personal and electoral concerns.

As Stephanopoulos noted, as damaging to Biden’s case have been the series of stories, in The New York Times and The Washington Post, in which anonymous sources have suggested that the president’s faltering performance was not an anomaly. The sources described other episodes where Biden lost his train of thought or was forgetful.

With Trump taunting Friday his opponent with calls for another debate ASAP without moderators, It’s not just donors but other Hollywood supporters who are closely watching Biden’s interview. One major supporter said that there has been a feeling that campaign efforts overlook that people saw what they truly saw. 

As Democratic House members have just scheduled a Sunday virtual meeting on what went down with Biden today, tonight’s interview will likely do little to counter that reality.

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