Joe Biden: Only 'Lord Almighty' can tell me to stand down, says president (2024)

Joe Biden has said only the “Lord Almighty” can tell him to stand down, as more Democrats broke ranks and urged him to make way for a younger successor.

The US president, 81, gave an interview to ABC News on Friday evening that was billed as an opportunity for him to recover support after a torrid week of criticism about his mental state.

Nevertheless, in the hours following the broadcast, a fifth Democrat in the House of Representatives warned the president could not beat Donald Trump in November’s election, and said he should stand aside for the “next generation”.

In the interview, with the broadcaster George Stephanopoulos, Mr Biden refused five times to say how he would react to being told by allies he should leave the presidential race.

“If the Lord Almighty said, ‘Joe get out of the race’, then I would get out of the race. But the Lord Almighty’s not coming down,” he said.

He denied claims that some of his closest allies, including Hakeem Jeffries, the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives, believed he should consider bowing out.

“I’ve met with them. I’ve met a lot of these people,” he said.

“I’ve talked with them regularly. I had an hour conversation with Hakeem. I had more time than that with Jim Clyburn. I spent time with, many hours off and on the last little bit, with Chuck Schumer.”

Asked finally what he would do if those people asked him to stand back for a younger candidate, he replied: “I’m not going to answer that question. It’s not going to happen.”

The polls are a ‘toss-up’, says Biden

Mr Jeffries is expected to meet with senior House Democrats on Sunday, where they will discuss Mr Biden’s candidacy and the aftermath of his dire performance in last week’s presidential debate.

Mr Biden said he had not watched his debate against Trump, which has sparked fresh calls for him to give up his re-election campaign.

The president was defensive about his health, his campaign and his poll ratings ─ implying several times that reports of his mental infirmity had been exaggerated by the media.

He denied that his position in the opinion polls had worsened since the debate, telling the broadcaster: “All the pollsters I talk to tell me it’s a toss-up.”

A polling aggregation by FiveThirtyEight shows Mr Biden, who was tied with Trump last week, has lost ground to the Republican every day since the debate and is now more than two points behind him nationally.

President is ‘out of touch’

The interview did not appear to have placated Mr Biden’s critics, who have been calling for him to stand down since last Thursday.

Angie Craig, a Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, publicly called on the US president to stand aside on Saturday morning, telling him: “This future of our country is bigger than any one of us.”

Citing Mr Biden’s debate performance and his inability to mount a “forceful response” to critics, she said he could not “effectively campaign and win” against Trump in November.

It means five House Democrats have broken ranks in a growing revolt against the president, while others are said to be mulling a similar move.

Several were infuriated when Mr Biden signalled that he would be content to lose to Trump as long as he did the “goodest job” he could, the New York Times reports.

David Axelrod, a former adviser to Barack Obama who served at the same time Mr Biden was vice president, said after the interview: “The president is rightfully proud of his record.

“But he is dangerously out of touch with the concerns people have about his capacities moving forward and his standing in this race.”

Mr Biden blamed the disastrous debate, in which he stuttered and froze, on a cold he had contracted and his decision to work too hard in the days before it.

“I was sick. I was feeling terrible,” he said. “As a matter of fact, the doc’s with me, I asked if they did a Covid test.

“We were trying to figure out what’s wrong. He did a test to see whether or not I had some infection or virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.”

He also suggested the reason for his unease on the debate stage was Trump interrupting him.

“Even when I was answering the question, and when they turned [Trump’s] mic off, he was still shouting and I let it distract me,” he said. “I’m not blaming, but I realised that I just wasn’t in control.”

Biden insists he is well enough to run

However, Mr Biden repeatedly denied that he was not mentally or physically fit enough to run for office again.

He said: “Can I run the 110 flat? No, but I’m still in good shape.”

Asked several times whether he would agree to a cognitive test, Mr Biden said he showed his mental abilities “every day” through his work and had not been asked by doctors to complete one.

“No one said I had to,” he said. “No one said…they said I’m good.”

The interview came after a week of intense criticism of Mr Biden, including from two sitting Democratic congressmen who said publicly that he should stand down.

The interview came after a week of intense criticism of Mr Biden. On Friday night, Maura Healey, the governor of Massachusetts, became the most high-profile sitting Democrat to publicly call for him to consider his position.

“The best way forward right now is a decision for the president to make,” she said.

Joe Biden: Only 'Lord Almighty' can tell me to stand down, says president (2024)


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