Top NewsBiden interview fails to assuage Democrats' fitness concerns

Biden interview fails to assuage Democrats’ fitness concerns

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video title, Clip of Joe Biden in exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos

  • author, Rachel Looker and Courtney Subramanian
  • stock, BBC News, Washington

President Joe Biden’s televised interview Friday night did not appear to quell an uproar within his own party to end his campaign after stopping a debate show against Donald Trump.

A fifth House Democrat, Angie Craig of Minnesota, joined her colleagues on Saturday in calling for the president to step aside, as reports suggest that others may soon follow.

In his rare prime-time ABC News interview, Mr Biden dismissed his debate performance as a “bad episode” and said only “the Lord Almighty” could convince him to end his bid for re-election.

Mr Biden, 81, is spending Saturday at his family home in Delaware before two public events on Sunday.

While no senior members of the party have called on the president to step down, unease among Democrats is palpable.

Some polls show Trump widening his lead over Mr Biden, and many worry he could lose the presidency and House seats along with his Senate majority if he leads the ticket.

On Saturday, Congresswoman Craig, who is running in a competitive district in Minnesota, said she doesn’t believe the president “can effectively campaign against Donald Trump and win.”

He said that while he respects the president’s decades of service, he calls on Biden to step aside as the Democratic nominee.

“This is not a decision I take lightly, but the stakes are high for a second Donald Trump presidency,” he said in a statement.

Minutes after the ABC interview, Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett, the first House Democrat to call on Biden to drop out of the race, told CNN, “The need for (Biden) to step aside is more urgent tonight than I originally called for it. It is”.

He said it would take too long for Mr Biden to make a decision to withdraw, saying it would be “very difficult to get a new person on board who can defeat Donald Trump”.

Other House Democrats, including Congressmen Mike Quigley of Illinois and Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, called on Mr Biden to drop out of the race on Friday. They joined Arizona lawmaker Raul Grijalva, who on Wednesday called on the president to end his candidacy.

In his interview, Mr Biden refused to take a cognitive test and made the results public to prove he was fit for another term.

“I have a cognitive test every day. I have that test every day – everything I do [is a test],” he told George Stephanopoulos.

The response didn’t resonate with Congresswoman Judy Sue, a Democrat from California, who told Politico that her response was “shocking and not particularly reassuring, so I’ll be watching very closely every day how he acts, especially in spontaneous situations.”

image source, Good pictures

image caption, Biden speaks at a rally in Wisconsin on July 5

During the 22-minute prime-time interview, Mr. Biden dismissed suggestions that allies might ask him to step aside, saying “that’s not going to happen.”

Mr Stephanopoulos emphasized the president’s ability to serve another term.

“I don’t think anyone is more qualified to be president or win this race than me,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Biden, who will speak at a rally in Pennsylvania on Sunday, thanked Vice President Kamala Harris for her support during an ABC News interview.

He has emerged as a top contender to replace Ms Harris if she steps down.

While the rest of the country tuned in to Mr. Biden’s interview, Ms. Harris was on Air Force Two, flying to New Orleans to attend the Essence Festival, an annual black cultural gathering.

Although Ms. Harris stuck closely to the president last week — flying from Los Angeles to attend a White House Fourth of July celebration, sitting in on Mr. Biden’s meeting with governors and his call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — aides argue. Business as usual for the Vice President.

On Saturday, he planned to sit down for a moderated conversation at the Essence event, the first of a series of July events that appeared to target black female voters, a key constituency for Democrats in November.

Although the event focused on celebrating black culture and diversity, it was hard to avoid the questions surrounding Mr Biden’s candidacy and the possibility of Ms Harris rising to the top of the ticket.

As she continues her busy public schedule, Ms. Harris will have to maintain the delicate balance of expressing clear support for her boss if Mr. Biden’s nomination unravels.

He has walked a tightrope over the past three years as Biden’s vice chancellor, never seeming to overshadow the president or seem too eager to take his place.

See also  Iowa caucuses: Republican rivals make last-ditch effort to cut Trump's lead

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