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Biden defends health, insists he will beat Trump in high-stakes interview

President Biden defended his health and insisted he can beat former President Trump in November in a high-stakes interview Friday that came after his dismal debate performance in Atlanta last week.

“I don’t think there’s anybody more qualified to be president or win this race than me,” Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

“I convinced myself of two things: I’m the most qualified person to beat him, and I know how to get things done,” Biden said, referring to Trump.

Stephanopoulos noted that Biden is behind in polls against Trump, especially in battleground states and even after the former president was convicted on 34 charges in a New York hush money case.

When asked if the polling should lead to him to not run again, Biden replied, “Not when you’re running against a pathological liar.”

A New York Times/ Siena College poll released Wednesday showed Trump had expanded his lead to 6 points since the debate.

Stephanopoulos pressed Biden over whether the president thinks he’s not behind in the polls, to which Biden replied that the pollsters he talked to tell him it’s a toss-up and said The New York Times poll is an outlier.

Biden responded, “I don’t buy that” when Stephanopoulos noted that he’s behind in the popular vote ahead of November.

On if he could be convinced to drop out, Biden said, “if the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race. The Lord Almighty’s not comin’ down.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is working to gather support among Democratic senators to ask Biden drop his reelection bid, two sources familiar with the effort told The Hill.

“Well, Mark is a good man,” Biden said. “Mark and I have a different perspective. I respect him.”

The president leaned on the current support he has from Democratic congressional leadership. He spoke with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday to reassure them. But he wouldn’t answer when asked what he would do if they changed their minds and called for him to drop out.

“I’m not going to answer that question, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Stephanopoulos posed a number of questions about the president’s health in light of the debate, during which Biden spoke in a soft and raspy voice and often struggled to complete sentences. Biden asserted he’s “still in good shape.”

The White House during the debate said Biden had a cold, and he has blamed recent foreign travel for his poor showing, although he had returned from Europe 12 days before the debate.

“It was a bad episode. No indication of any serious condition. I was exhausted,” Biden said. “I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of preparing and — and a bad night.”

He also pushed back on questions about if he would be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation, including neurological and cognitive tests, and release the results.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test; everything I do,” Biden said, adding that he spoke to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and new British Prime Minister Keir Starmer earlier in the day.

Stephanopoulos pressed again, asking if he had the mental and physical capacity to do the job for another four years.

“I believe so. I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I did,” Biden added. “I’m running again because I think I understand best what has to be done to take this nation to a completely new level. We’re on our way. We’re on our way.”

A source familiar with the Biden campaign’s thinking argued after the interview aired that Biden “demonstrates again and again he knows how to do this job” and that the campaign is ready to look onward past the debate.

Ahead of the interview, Biden held an energetic rally in Wisconsin and declared he’s not dropping out of the race, pushing back on critics. And Biden told reporters while leaving Wisconsin that he was “completely ruling that out,” referring to dropping out of the race, and he committed to debating Trump again.

But, Democrats’ initial reaction stopped short of saying that Biden had successfully conducted damage control with the interview.

“He can be a little bit mumbly and stumbly, but he was clear,” CNN political commentator Van Jones said. “I think that it will stop some of the bleeding. I don’t think it reverses, though, the damage.”

Former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod, called Biden “dangerously out-of-touch with the concerns people have” about “his standing in this race.”

And, one Democratic operative told The Hill, “I don’t think anyone running under him on the ballot feels better watching this.”

Julia Manchester contributed.

Source: The Hill

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