Combative Biden refuses to quit 2024 race, dismisses polls and mental acuity questions in pivotal interview

President Biden repeatedly refused to reconsider his bid for re-election, time and again dismissing the concerns of those who are trying to pressure him to quit the 2024 White House race due to lagging poll numbers and concerns about his mental acuity during a high-stakes Friday evening interview.

Biden’s 22-minute sit-down on ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos was taped earlier in the day but aired unedited. It was the 81-year-old president’s first televised sit-down since his disastrous debate performance against former President Trump last week.

At one point Stephanopoulos told Biden point-blank that he was behind in the popular vote, to which the president replied, “I don’t buy that.”

“I don’t think anybody is more qualified to be president or win this race than me,” Biden said when pressed about a race that his opponent appears currently favored to win.

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When asked if he had the mental acuity to be president for another four years, Biden said, “I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I did.”

Biden also brushed off concerns about his mental fitness for office. When asked if he was being “honest” with himself about his own cognitive abilities, the president replied: “Yes, I am, because, George, last thing I want to do is not be able to meet that.”

But he was also evasive when asked about the possibility of taking a cognitive test and making those results public – something Biden’s Republican critics have long demanded.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have a test. Everything I do,” Biden said. “You know, not only am I campaigning, I’m running the world. And that’s not – it sounds like hyperbole. But we are the essential nation in the world.”

When pressed again, Biden said “I’ve already done it,” though he didn’t explain the response any further.

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Biden’s allies and critics alike were expected to be closely watching the interview after last month’s CNN debate pushed to the forefront lingering concerns about his viability as a candidate.

The president delivered a poor performance against his Republican rival, speaking with a hoarse voice that he attributed to a bad cold and also frequently trailing off while speaking, appearing to lose his train of thought. 

On Friday, Biden insisted he had a “bad night” during the debate. But he still largely his answers and occasionally deviated from the subject at hand.

“I think the most charitable thing you can say about it is, it’s way too little, too late,” Democratic strategist Julian Epstein, former chief counsel for Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee told Fox News Digital after the interview aired. “The president looks frail. He looks foggy. He looks weak. He looks like he is using every last ounce of energy that he may have to sort of barely get through.”

Epstein also said, “Most Democrats now, whether they’re saying it or not, realize that, you know, the Biden campaign is on death watch. And it’s a question of whether I think it will be, you know, early next week, or after that.”

Biden said he blamed himself for how the Thursday debate went, but also suggested some fault lies with Trump.

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“It came to me I was having a bad night when I realized that even when I was answering a question, even when they turned his mic off, he was still shouting, and I- I let it distract me. I’m not blaming it on that. But I realized that I just wasn’t in control,” the president said.

He also responded to questions about recent polls that show him behind Trump, “All pollsters I talk to tell me it’s a toss-up. And when I’m behind – there’s only one poll I’m really far behind, CBS poll, and NBC, I mean, excuse me,” Biden said, his last few words barely intelligible. 

Stephanopoulos then said, “New York Times and NBC, both you have, have you about six points behind in the popular vote.”

“That’s exactly right. New York Times had me behind before anything having to do with this race, had me behind, ten points, ten points they had me behind. Nothing’s changed substantially in the New York Times poll,” Biden answered.

Toward the end of the interview, Stephanopoulos asked Biden about the growing number of Democratic lawmakers suggesting he should step aside – but Biden pushed back strongly.

“Look, I mean, if the Lord Almighty came out and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race.’ I’ll get out of the race. The Lord Almighty’s not coming down,” the president said.

Former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod wrote on X after the debate, “The president is rightfully proud of his record. But he is dangerously out-of-touch with the concerns people have about his capacities[sp] moving forward and his standing in this race.”

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