Biden Says He’d Leave Presidential Race if ‘The Lord Almighty’ Comes Down to Tell Him, but That’s Not Happening | Video

When asked if he’d had a neurological exam, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “No one said I had to”

In President Joe Biden’s first interview since his debate fumble, the commander-in-chief described his poor performance as a “bad episode,” but insisted he has no “serious [health] condition” and insisted repeatedly that he would not drop out of the presidential race.

The president said in a lighthearted style that he would step down “if the Lord Almighty came down” and asked him to do so, but “the Lord Almighty’s not coming down.” Biden used that as a response as ABC’s George Stephanopoulos continued to press him, looking to find out what could convince Biden to leave the race, but Biden remained defensive throughout the 22-minute interview.

Biden spoke with ABC News in a special edition of the network’s “This Week,” recorded Friday afternoon after a rally in Wisconsin.

Stephanopoulos asked if the president has an underlying health issue that has not yet been disclosed, noting that Rep. Nancy Pelosi had framed the question on the mind of voters: “Was this a bad episode or the sign of a more serious condition?”

The 81-year-old replied, “It was a bad episode. No indication of any serious condition. I was exhausted. I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of preparing and — and a bad night.”

Biden smiled broadly at points during the interview, appearing much more animated than he did during the debate, though he seemed to slow down and pause longer as the interview proceeded.

Biden’s mental acuity, what would make him step down

When asked what his doctor said when he was examined following the debate, Biden said that his doctor told him he was “exhausted.” He also said he’d had a full physical and received ongoing medical evaluation s president.

Stephanopoulos pressed him on whether he’d taken a neurological exam, and Biden responded, “No one said I had to.” He described the job he does as president as a daily neurological exam. “No one said. They said I’m good.”

The ABC host asked Biden if he was being honest with himself about being up to the job, which the president said that he was. When asked if he was being honest about his chances to beat Trump, Biden responded, “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

Asked about reporting that Sen. Mark Warner and other senators are planning to ask Biden to step aside, the president replied, “Mark is a good man,” adding, “He also tried to get the nomination too. Mark’s not– Mark and I have a different perspective. I respect him.”

Stephanopoulos pressed him on what he would do if Democratic leaders Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries asked him to step aside.

“No one said– none of the people said I should leave,” Biden said, citing conversations he’d had with other Democrats. When asked what he’d do if they did, Biden said that was hypothetical and wasn’t going to happen.

“The Lord Almighty’s not comin’ down. I mean, these hypotheticals, George–“

The interviewer said that these weren’t hypotheticals anymore. After being continually asked, Stephanopoulos approached it by again asking what Biden would do if allies, friends and supporters from the Democratic Party in the House and Senate came to him with concern that they would lose Congress if he stayed in.

“I’m not going to answer that question. It’s not going to happen,” Biden said.

The president’s schedule and being sick during the debate

When initially asked about having a bad night, Biden self-deprecatingly replied, “Sure did.” He attempted to make quips throughout in what appeared to be a way of avoiding questions, but Stephanopoulos would repeat his question or rephrase when Biden offered those lighthearted answers.

One instance was when he was asked about whether he’s had more lapses recently, to which he responded, “Can I run the 100 in 10 flat? No. But I’m still in good shape.” He added that he was not more frail now than he was before.

The network noted that it had offered the opportunity for a similar interview to Republican candidate Donald Trump, but he declined.

Stephanopoulos asked for specifics about Biden’s schedule, following a mid-June trip to France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day: “You came home from Europe about 11 or 12 days before the debate and spent six days in Camp David. Why wasn’t that enough rest time, enough recovery time?”

“Because I was sick,” said Biden, who sounded noticeably hoarse during the debate, as viewers noted at the time. “I was feeling terrible.” He explained that he asked to be tested for COVID as the doctors with him “tried to figure out what was wrong.”

He continued, “They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, a virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.”

The president said that he hadn’t watched his debate performance back, responding when asked, “I don’t think I did, no.”

When asked if he “knew how badly [the debate] was going” while on stage, Biden said, “Yeah, look — the whole way I prepared … nobody’s fault but mine.” He explained that his prep was similar to what he does ahead of a meeting with a foreign leader or the National Security Council, focusing on “explicit detail” of his policies and achievements.

Dismissing poll numbers

“I realized — partway through that, you know, all — I get quoted the New York Times had me down, 10 points before the debate, 9 now, or whatever the hell it is,” Biden said. “The fact of the matter is, what I looked at is that he also lied 28 times.”

CNN’s post-debate fact check found that the Republican candidate actually lied more than 30 times.

“I couldn’t– I mean, the way the debate ran, not– my fault, nobody else’s fault, no one else’s fault,” Biden said. The comment came following reporting that noted there had some blame within the administration on the president’s prep for the debate.

Stephanopoulos followed that up with, “It seems like you were having trouble from the first question in, even before [Trump] spoke.”

“Well, I just had a bad night,” Biden said. Biden quipped that Stephanopoulos had some bad interviews over the years, which the news anchor agreed with.

When Stephanopoulos asked about Biden’s declining polling numbers, Biden questioned polling in general and questioned if polls were as accurate as they once were. He responded, “I don’t buy that,” when asked about being behind. The president said that the pollsters he talks to say the election remains a toss-up.

Stephanopoulos noted that he’s never seen someone win a re-election when they have an approval number as low as Biden’s.

When asked if the debate was a sign of decline, Biden pivoted to touting his accomplishments and said that there’s been no decline in accomplishment over the course of his presidency.

Key Democrat politicians and donors have questioned Biden’s fitness to continue as the presumptive 2024 candidate. Since the debate, several media outlets, including The New York Times, have called for the political veteran to step aside and make way for a younger candidate, as have key donors like Netflix’s Reed Hastings.

The full Biden interview aired Friday night on ABC at 8 p.m. ET and was being held to air on the West Coast at 8 p.m. PT. It will also re-air this Sunday during ABC News’ regularly scheduled “This Week.”

This story has been updated.


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