5 takeaways from Biden's first interview following his disastrous debate performance

  • President Joe Biden appeared Friday in his first interview since last week’s debate with Donald Trump.

  • Donors and supporters saw the interview as key to addressing criticisms of Biden’s poor debate.

  • Here’s four things you need to know about it went.

All eyes were on ABC News on Friday when President Joe Biden appeared in his first interview since his catastrophic debate appearance last week.

Democratic donors and supporters of Biden saw the interview as key to addressing criticisms of his poor debate showing — in which Biden repeatedly fumbled his words and appeared to lose his train of thought.

Here’s what you need to know about how Biden’s post-debate interview went:

1. He’s staying in the race

In response to the debate debacle, some major Democratic donors, including Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and Disney heiress Abigail Disney, have pledged to withhold funding from the party until Biden drops out of the race.

Other once-loyal supporters, including four sitting House Democrats, have joined their calls for him to step aside.

While some reports indicate Biden has privately acknowledged that he might be unable to save his reelection bid, in his ABC News interview, he publicly reiterated his current plan to stay in the race.

“Are you sure you’re being honest with yourself when you say you have the mental and physical capacity to serve another four years?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos pushed Biden.

“Yes, I am,” the president responded. “Because George, last thing I want to do is not be able to meet that.”

2. Biden called debate night a ‘bad episode’

Biden called his poor showing on debate night a “bad episode,” but he stressed his fumbled words and mangled answers were “no indication of any serious condition.”

“I was exhausted,” Biden told ABC News. “I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of preparing and — and a bad night.”

Biden, currently 81-years-old, has long faced criticism over his age and fitness for office, which grew louder following the debate. His campaign has offered conflicting excuses for the sitting president’s lackluster showing, including that he was sick, jetlagged, and poorly prepared for the event.

When Stephanopoulos pressed Biden, asking why spending nearly a week at Camp David wasn’t enough recovery time from his travels to France to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Biden said he was sick.

“I was feeling terrible,” Biden said. “Matter of fact the docs with me. I asked if they did a COVID test because they’re trying to figure out what was wrong. They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, you know, a virus. I didn’t. I just had a really bad cold.”

3. The president seems to be considering his legacy

While he maintained that he plans to stay in the race for reelection — joking that he’d consider stepping down if “the Lord Almighty” asked him to — Biden, in several responses, appeared reflective about his debate performance and his presidential legacy more broadly.

“If I stopped now, I would go down in history as a pretty successful president,” Biden said.

And if Trump wins?

Biden said that “as long as I gave it my all,” he will be OK.

“That’s what this is about,” Biden said.

Notably, Biden dodged questions about what he would do if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies asked him to step down.

4. Biden seems in denial over his dipping poll numbers

When pressed about his persistent slump in the polls, Biden was defiant, saying the data wasn’t accurate.

“I remember them telling me the same thing in 2020 — I can’t win. The polls show I can win,” Biden said. “Before the vote, I said that’s not going to happen: We’re going to win.”

When he won in 2020, Biden became the first US presidential candidate to secure more than 80 million votes. Biden referenced his historic victory in the interview, reiterating his intention to win again.

Stephanopoulos asked if Biden had seen recent reports of discontent in the Democratic party, which Biden similarly brushed off.

“I’ve seen it from the press,” Biden said.

5. Viewers don’t so far appear to be convinced

On social media, clips of the 22-minute interview drew immediate skepticism, if not outright condemnation, from many viewers.

Some lambasted ABC News for airing a pre-recorded version instead of a livestream, while others criticized Biden’s responses and appearance during the interview.

“I feel no better,” one Instagram user wrote in a comment. “I think this interview made the situation worse.”

The initial response wasn’t all negative, with some reiterating their support for Biden.

“I can appreciate that he’s accepted responsibility,” another Instagram user wrote. “He still has my vote. There’s no room for any more errors IMO.”

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