Concerns continue to grow over Joe Biden's fitness as US president following TV interview

Concerns continue to grow over Joe Biden's fitness as US president following TV interview
A recent TV interview Biden gave in an effort to assure the American public that he is fit for a second term as president appears to have done the opposite.
4 min read
Washington, DC
07 July, 2024
Biden continues his campaign, despite growing calls for him to step down. [Getty]

Following his poor debate performance against Donald Trump just over a week ago, US President Joe Biden has been trying to reassure the American public that he is fit for a second term in office.

However, his efforts have only raised more concerns for Democrats over his ability to win in November.

In an interview Friday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Biden delivered hesitating and low-energy answers, often mumbling, as he tried to make up for his debate performance. In some cases, his answers seemed to indicate he wasn't entirely aware of the gravity of the situation.

When asked how he would feel if Trump won in November, Biden responded by saying, "As long as I gave it my all," an answer many took to mean that he cared more about staying in the race than winning.

Throughout the 22-minute unedited interview, Biden insisted that he was staying in the race, citing his own campaign's internal polling, which he claimed showed him doing better than the flurry of mainstream polls indicating that he's falling behind in battleground states.

Stephanopoulos opened the interview by getting straight to the point of the question on the minds of millions of Americans who had watched Biden's poor debate performance.

"Was this a bad episode, or the sign of a more serious condition?" Biden quickly responded that it was a bad episode, claiming that he was exhausted and had been suffering from a cold. 

Stephanopoulos then pushed back by reminding Biden that he had around a week to rest and prepare for the debate at Camp David and that he'd been back from his trip to Europe for around 10 days. Biden again insisted that he was ill during the debate. He then tried to pivot to focus on discussing the successes of his administration.

In a bizarre attempt at self-promotion, Biden said that in terms of successes, he was "the guy who put together a peace plan for the Middle East" and that he "was also the guy that expanded NATO."

He was making these claims of success as two of the deadliest wars in modern history continue to rage in Gaza and Ukraine, with many blaming overreaching US support for Israel and NATO for these conflicts.

He then pointed to some of his domestic successes, such as job growth and lowering prescription drug prices. Even when he turned to more credible achievements, he continued to hesitate and mumble, at times appearing indignant that Stephanopoulos would question his fitness for office.

Even as Biden's voice repeatedly faltered throughout the interview, his defiance remained steadfast. 

"If you could be convinced that you cannot beat Donald Trump, would you stand down?" Stephanopoulos asked. 

"It depends if the Lord almighty himself comes down with that, I might do that," Biden said with a dismissive laugh.

This interview, on top of Biden's notoriously dismal debate performance, has led to a growing roster of high-profile Democrats, including at least five members of Congress, expressing serious concerns about Biden's ability to serve as president and to win in November.

"The most generous way to put it is that he doesn't seem in command, and that's an extremely hard sell when you're Commander in Chief," wrote veteran pollster Nate Silver of 538 on X.

James Zogby, another veteran pollster and president and of the Arab American Institute, is also concerned about Biden's ability to serve.

"There was a lot of mumbling and deer in the headlights. He's not in his best state of mind right now," Zogby told The New Arab, emphasising it was difficult for him to watch Biden's recent public appearances.

"This has been a problem, and it's getting worse. We're either going to spend the next several months dealing with this every single day, or take the reins and control the process in a way that's viewed as democratic," he said, referring to a potential replacement of Biden on the Democratic ticket, a move that many believe would be the only way for the Democrats to beat Donald Trump in November.

"I care for the country, and I'm not ready to throw the country overboard because we pursued a bad policy," he said, referring to Biden's support for Israel's war on Gaza. "I think we can get a president that's smarter about the Middle East."