President Joe Biden insisted he was physically and mentally prepared for a second run for president and said he would not bow out of the race, during an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos.

The interview was Biden’s first one-on-one sitdown since he faced former President Donald Trump in a debate last week, where his halting and confused performance raised questions about his ability to run for a second term in office.

Biden called his debate performance a “bad night,” blaming it on a “bad cold,” as well as exhaustion after returning from an overseas trip about 10 days before.

In a 22-minute interview, which Stephanopoulos said ABC did not edit or cut, Biden also tried to turn blame on Trump, saying he was distracted by Trump’s “lies” and by Trump shouting after his mic was turned off.

Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he was being “honest” with himself about his ability to run, or his ability to defeat Trump, especially given that since the debate Biden’s support has declined, according to several national polls.

Post-debate surge: Trump makes gains over Biden in polls

“You know the heart of your case against Donald Trump is that he’s only out for himself, putting his personal interest ahead of the national interest. How do you respond to critics who say that by staying in the race, you’re doing the same thing?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Oh come on,” Biden responded. “I don’t think those critics know what they’re talking about. They’re just wrong.”

Stephanopoulos also tried to get Biden to admit he is behind in polls both in terms of the popular vote and in head-to-head matchups against Trump in swing states, but Biden said, “I don’t buy that.”

“Have you convinced yourself that only you can defeat him?” Stephanopoulos asked.

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

Biden also pushed back against reports that several elected officials wanted him to stand aside. He said he has spoken to several Democrats and said he doesn’t think they want him to get out of the race, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

Instead, Biden said, he believes calls for him to stand down are coming from the press.

As Stephanopoulos continued to press him, Biden said there was one thing that would make him drop out of the race.

“Look, I mean, 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 coming down,” Biden said.

Biden says he’s staying in. These swing-state voters cheer his decision

Will Biden take a cognitive test?

Stephanopoulos asked Biden about whether he’d had any tests to measure his cognitive ability, or if he’d be willing to take a test.

“Have you had the specific cognitive tests, and have you had a neurologist, a specialist, do an examination?” he asked Biden.

Biden said he had, but then Stephanopoulos pressed and asked him if he’d had a full cognitive test.

“Would you be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognitive tests and release the results to the American people?” Stephanopoulos asked.


Biden said no, because no one said he had to. He claimed his daily activities amounted to a cognitive test.

“Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test, everything I do. You know, not only am I campaigning, but I’m running the world,” Biden said. “And that sounds like hyperbole but we are the central nation in the world.”

After the interview, ABC’s chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl said Biden looked “better” and “more coherent” than he did in the debate, but said there was “nothing in this interview that is calming nerves of jittery Democrats who fear that Joe Biden is on a trajectory to lose this race, to lose to Donald Trump.”

Stephanopoulos, who worked in the White House under former Democratic President Bill Clinton, interviewed Biden in Madison, Wisconsin, after Biden spoke at a rally to supporters in the state. At the rally, Biden said he would not stand down, and that he had the support of all of the people who voted for him.

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