Rambling, gambling Biden insists he is fit to run in painful interview

WASHINGTON: He wasn’t a disaster. But he didn’t dazzle either. The jury is still out on whether US President Joe Biden is fit to run for a second term after an iffy show in an ABC News interview in which he dismissed concerns about his mental acuity and declared he’d drop out of the Presidential election only if the ‘Lord Almighty’ told him to.
Subjected to unsparing questioning about his health and fitness by anchor George Stephanopoulus, Biden insisted he was still in good shape and attributed his disastrous performance in the first debate last week with Republican rival Donald Trump to exhaustion and distraction.
Asked if he was being honest with himself about his mental and physical ability to lead for four more years, Biden replied, “Yes, I am, because, George, the last thing I want to do is not be able to meet that.”
Stephanopoulus: Are you the same man today that you were when you took office three-and-a-half years ago?
Biden: In terms of successes, yes. I also was the guy who put together a peace plan for the Middle East that may be comin’ to fruition. I was also the guy that expanded Nato. I was also the guy that grew the economy. All the individual things that were done were ideas I had or I fulfilled.
Stephanopoulus: Do you dispute that there have been more lapses, especially in the last several months?
Biden: Can I run the 100 in 10 flat? No. But I’m still in good shape.
Stephanopoulus: If you can be convinced that you cannot defeat Donald Trump, will you stand down?
Biden: It depends on — on if the Lord Almighty comes down and tells me that, I might do that.
The US President declined to agree to have an independent medical evaluation that included cognitive tests and share the results with the public, saying he was being tested everyday by having to make important decisions which were deemed successful.
“I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day, I have that test. Everything I do. Not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world,” Biden said, suggesting that his everyday functioning is test enough.
He also brushed off recent poll numbers that show him behind Trump both in the general election and in specific swing states and concerns voiced by some Democrats that staying in the race is not in the interest of the party or the country.
Although there were no major flubs in the 22-minute interview, it did little to allay critics who feel he is too old and infirm. Several Democratic lawmakers and party grandees are preparing ground to persuade the President to drop out, some of them pushing for Kamala Harris to replace him at the top of the ticket.
But in a tweet ahead of the interview Biden doubled down on running, saying, “I’m not letting one 90-minute debate wipe out three and a half years of work. I’m staying in the race, and I will beat Donald Trump.”
While Biden supporters argued that the interview — although conducted by a former Democratic operative — was yet another effort to bully the President into quitting the race, his critics pointed out that it was a pre-taped interview, possibly edited, and full version could be more damaging.
Always voluble and prone to digressions and stumbling over words, Biden’s rambling appeared even more glaring in an interview that was watched by millions, when Stephanopoulos kicked off by asking what had gone wrong a week earlier.
“The whole way I prepared… nobody’s fault mine…nobody’s fault but mine…I, uh, prepared what I usually would do, sitting down as I did, come back with foreign leaders or National Security Council for explicit detail. And I realized about partway through that, you know, I quoted The New York Times had me down 10 points before the debate, 9 now or whatever the hell it is. The fact of the matter is that what I looked at is that he also lied 28 times. I couldn’t, I mean, the way the debate ran, not — my fault, no one else’s fault — no one else’s fault…” Biden blathered.
It was painful watching for supporters and critics alike.


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