Biden Defends Debate Fail at Friday Rally: ‘I Don’t Speak as Smoothly as I Used to … But I Know How to Tell the Truth’

President Joe Biden faced down his doubters at a forceful speech on Friday, saying, “I know I’m not a young man … I don’t debate as well as I used to,” but insisting he’s still up to the job in the White House.

Biden sought to reassure supporters just hours after his halting debate performance Thursday night, as panicked Democrat discussions began to potentially replace him as the party leader and presidential candidate.

“I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to,” he said to cheers from the crowd in a Raleigh, N.C., hanger. “But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. And I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”

He added, “When you get knocked down you get back up! … I know in my heart that I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I can do this job.”

He also attacked his Republican rival former President Donald Trump as “a one-man crime wave.”

Biden appeared markedly more energetic the following day after his stumbling debate performance against Donald Trump as he attempts to dispel widespread panic among Democrats about his ability lead the party and make it through the election.

Biden, 80, suffered from a scratchy throat during the debate that made him inarticulate and often inaudible, attributed by aides to a cold. His answers trailed off at times, and his odd mouth-open expressions made the case that he was too old for the job.

Trump stuck to his attack-dog tactics — with no fact-checking from moderators Dana Bash and Jake Tapper. CNN said Friday it was “proud” of its two anchors and fact-checking was done live on the network’s digital platforms.

“It was hard to watch,” said Alyssa Farrah Griffin, a former Trump official who comments on CNN. “I don’t know anyone who watched this and says they have confidence in this person for the next four years.”

“Trump spoke plainly but he lied all the time,” said Van Jones, a Democrat, also on CNN. Of Biden, Jones – who was almost in tears – said: “He looked terrible …Neither of these people are inspiring the confidence that they can do the job.”

Nearly 50 million people watched Thursday’s debate, and Democratic insiders pointed out that considerably fewer people will have seen his Friday comeback.

The route for Democrats to replace Mr. Biden is for him to step aside and surrender his delegates. His replacement would be decided on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in August.

But while MSNBC host Katy Tur described Biden’s Friday performance as “whiplash” and Democratic insiders mused, “Where was this Joe Biden on Thursday night?,” President Barack Obama backed to Biden, writing on X on Friday, “Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.”

Obama added, “Between someone who tells the truth; who knows right from wrong and will give it to the American people straight — and someone who lies through his teeth for his own benefit. Last night didn’t change that, and it’s why so much is at stake in November.”

Joe Biden, Barack Obama
US President Joe Biden with former President Barack Obama at a fundraiser at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles on June 15, 2024. (CREDIT: Mandel NGAN / AFP)

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