President Joe Biden’s busy schedule and jet lag — alongside a cold — affected his debate performance, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday.

At a campaign event in McLean, Virginia, Tuesday night, Biden told Democratic donors, “I didn’t have my best night but the fact is that you know, I wasn’t very smart. I decided to travel around the world a couple times, going through around 100 time zones. For real, I think it was about 15 time zones.”

In June, Biden visited France on the 80th anniversary of D-Day before heading to Italy for the Group of Seven leaders’ summit. The president then went to Los Angeles for a fundraiser before spending over a week at his vacation home in Delaware ahead of the debate against former President Donald Trump on June 27, according to Bloomberg.

Following the debate, the White House explained that Biden had a cold. But Biden’s comments Tuesday provided more explanation about his performance that has been widely criticized across the aisle.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Jean-Pierre described the president’s busy schedule as “rigorous.” She also stated that Biden got a cold after traveling — all of those factors contributing to a “bad night.”

“It was not his best night. He had a cold. He was jet-lagged,” Jean-Pierre said. “You heard directly from the president about this ... when he gets knocked down, he gets right back up.”

Karine Jean-Pierre: ‘He’s going to continue’

When asked Wednesday if Biden was considering stepping down, Jean-Pierre responded, “Absolutely not.”

“... He has been very clear, and he’s going to continue to build on the unprecedented record that he’s been able to lay out for the American people. That’s his focus right now.”

Jean-Pierre emphasized that Biden was not considering bowing out of the race, denying a report from earlier Wednesday that claimed the president told advisers that he is weighing whether or not he should continue his campaign for president, calling it “absolutely false.”

The press secretary also acknowledged the concern people expressed about Biden’s fitness for another run following the debate, but stated that the campaign is going to “continue to look forward.”

“He understands what people saw, and that’s why he’s spoken to it multiple times. And he’s spoken about his age, for example, multiple times, not just this past Friday, and he gets it, we get it,” Jean-Pierre stated.


“And so what we’re going to do is continue to look forward, continue to work on behalf of the American people. ... There is a record here that matters to majority of Americans. We were able to turn some things around, whether it’s the pandemic, the economy, expanding health care, all of those things matter to the American people, and so that’s going to be certainly our focus.”

White House calls Kamala Harris ‘the future of the party’

When asked if Biden still views himself a “transition candidate,” referencing a remark the president made in 2020, Jeanne-Pierre answered in the affirmative.

“One of the reasons why he picked Vice President President Kamala Harris is because she is indeed the future of the party, and he’s very proud to have partnered with her and continues to partner with her and delivering an unprecedented record for the American people,” Jeanne-Pierre said.

“And I think he’s going to continue, certainly to do that. They’re going to do that as partners like I said.”

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