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Breaking down ABC News' Friday night interview with President Biden

The interview was most viewers' first extended look at President Biden as he continues to push back against mounting calls for him to exit the 2024 presidential race.
Election 2024 Biden
Posted at 1:56 PM, Jul 05, 2024

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos interviewed President Joe Biden on Friday — the first such sit-down the president has scheduled since his debate performance.

ABC News aired the interview at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The outlet is also expecting to publish a transcript.

The interview was most viewers' first extended look at President Biden as he continues to push back against mounting calls for him to exit the 2024 presidential race. It was expected to draw scrutiny not just from the public, but from pundits, donors and lawmakers who are eager to determine if the president is fit to continue his campaign.

"No serious condition"

President Biden told Stephanopoulos his debate performance was a "bad episode" and that there were "no indications of any serious condition."

"I just had a bad night," President Biden said of the debate.

He told Stephanopoulos he could have done a better job to prepare for the debate, saying he hadn't listened to his instincts.

"I was feeling terrible," President Biden said of his days at Camp David between his return from abroad and the debate night. He said his doctors tested him for COVID and other illnesses, but his affliction appeared to be a cold.

"The whole way I prepared — nobody's fault but mine," President Biden said.

He said former President Donald Trump's continued speaking when microphones were cut during the debate distracted him.

"After that debate I did ten major events in a row, including until 2 o'clock in the morning," President Biden said.

"I just think it cost me a really bad night — a bad run," he said.

Pressed on age

"Can I run the hundred in ten flat? No. But I'm still in good shape," President Biden said.

His doctor told him he was "exhausted," the president recounted.

"I've had a full physical. I've been at Walter Reed for my physicals," he said.

He said he hasn't sat for a neurological or cognitive test.

"No one said I had to," he said.

Stephanopoulos pressed the president, asking whether he would sit for an independent medical evaluation. President Biden did not directly answer, saying his performance as president and on the campaign trail so far was good evidence.

"I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I did" have the stamina required of the office, President Biden said.

Defeating Trump

President Biden told Stephanopoulos he believed he was being honest with himself about his ability to defeat Donald Trump.

"Yes," the president emphasized. "Yes, yes, yes."

Stephanopoulos raised polling data that showed the president was slipping when compared to Trump.

President Biden emphasized his and his party's performance in the 2020 race, saying they surpassed expectations at the time.

Would it be harder to repeat that performance now?

"Not when you're running against a pathological liar," President Biden said.

"All the pollsters I talk to tell me it's a toss-up," the president said.

Stephanopoulos again pointed out that Biden was behind in some polls.

"I don't buy that," President Biden said. "I don't think anybody's more qualified to be president or win this race than me."

"Trump is a pathological liar," President Biden repeated. "This is a guy who told us to put bleach in our arms," as a coronavirus treatment. "This is a guy who wants to undo every single thing I've done."

Would he stand down?

"If the Lord Almighty comes down and tells me that, I might do that," President Biden said.

If Democratic leaders confronted President Biden with concerns over losing chambers of Congress and told him he should leave the race?

"They're not going to do that," President Biden said.

"What would you do?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"I'm not going to answer that question," President Biden said. "It's not going to happen."

ABC News advanced the taped interview, which was originally scheduled to air in full on Sunday, to Friday evening.

You can watch full segments of the exclusive on ABC News' website.

Related story: In emphatic campaign speech, Biden says, 'I am running and going to win again'

Earlier on Friday, President Biden made another fierce defense of his intent to continue running in 2024.

"I am running, and I am going to win again," he told rally attendees during a campaign appearance in Wisconsin. "I'm not letting one 90-minute debate wipe out three-and-a-half years of work."

Following Friday's interview, President Biden is expected to make campaign appearances in Pennsylvania, and later Nevada, Wisconsin and Michigan.

His campaign says he will take part in "frequent off-the-cuff moments" to reach voters.

ABC News said former President Donald Trump was offered the same opportunity for a one-on-one interview on the network and declined.