President Biden Fights Critics Calling for Him to Drop Out, Asserts He’s ‘Most Qualified’ to Beat Trump in High-Stakes ABC News Interview

President Joe Biden acknowledged a weak performance at last week’s presidential debate but tried to assure Americans during an ABC News interview that he was fit to run again in the 2024 race for the White House against Donald Trump.

Speaking with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Friday, Biden said he was “exhausted” during the event, which accounted for a performance in which the current Commander-in-Chief seemed enfeebled and slow, spurring distrust among his base and eroding support for a second White House run. Biden has worked since last week, when the debate was telecast by CNN, to find ways to prove himself anew to constituents, even as a furor swirls through media and Beltway circles over whether he remains fit to lead the nation.

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

He said his performance at the debate was “nobody’s fault but mine.”

Still, he tried to parry back at Stephanopoulos, noting that Trump “lied 28 times.” More than once, Biden asserted that Trump was “a pathological liar” and a “congenital liar” who was not a public servant but only out to enrich himself.

Over and over, as Stephanopoulos pressed Biden about his capabilities and his willingness to step aside, Biden defensively sought to make the case that he is best equipped to defeat former President Trump at the ballot box in November. He also made it clear that he sees himself as best prepared to protect the nation from geopolitical volatility across the globe, notably in Ukraine and in Gaza.

“I’m the most qualified person to beat him, and I know how to get things done,” Biden asserted. Later he reinforced: “I don’t think anybody’s more qualified to be President or win this race than me.”

“And who’s gonna be able to hold NATO together like me? Who’s gonna be able to be in a position where I’m able to keep the Pacific Basin in a position where we’re — we’re at least checkmating China now? Who’s gonna — who’s gonna do that? Who has that reach? … I guess a good way to judge me, is you’re gonna have now the NATO conference here in the United States next week. Come listen. See what they say.”

Biden was fiesty and defensive when Stephanopoulos referenced the panic among Democrats set off by his surprisingly feeble performance in the June 27 debate carried live on CNN. “I’ve met with them,” Biden insisted when the anchor mentioned Democratic Congressional leaders including Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Hakeen Jefferies. He also emphasized the high stakes of this election given all the challenges ahead.

“You’ve heard me say this before. I think the United States and the world is at an inflection point when the things that happen in the next several years are gonna determine what the next six, seven decades are gonna be like,” Biden said.

The public reaction to ABC News interview is critical for Biden, and is one of a series of events the White House hopes will demonstrate that he remains in strong control of the nation’s business. Even so, there was one response that seemed puzzling. Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he had watched the entire debate in its aftermath and the President replied, “I don’t think I did, no.” It was unclear if Biden had viewed parts of the event, or hadn’t seen any of it with aides.

At one point, in arguing with Stephanopoulos about his standing in various polls, Biden stumbled over references to CBS News, NBC News and New York Times polls.

Biden sounded most convincing when he was making the case that his chances of winning have been discounted before, as they were in 2020, and he’s proven his doubters wrong.

“I carried an awful lotta Democrats last time I ran in 2020. Look, I remember them tellin’ me the same thing in 2020. ‘I can’t win. The polls show I can’t win,'” he said. He also pointed to the Democrats’ better-than-expected showing in the 2022 midterm elections. “Remember, the red wave was coming. Before the vote, I said, ‘That’s not gonna happen. We’re gonna win.’ We did better in an off-year than almost any incumbent President ever has done.”

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