White House Gave Radio Hosts Questions to Ask Biden Ahead of Interviews | Video

White House aides delivered eight questions to two radio hosts who interviewed President Joe Biden last week, Philadelphia’s Andrea Lawful-Sanders told CNN on Saturday. The Biden-Harris campaign confirmed that it provided the questions to the hosts.

According to a source familiar with the Biden booking operation, hosts have been free to ask the president questions of their choice in all interviews, but the campaign planned to refrain from suggesting questions going forward.

CNN “First of All” host Victor Blackwell shared with Lawful-Sanders and radio host Earl Ingram that he’d listened to both of their interviews with the president and noticed, “there’s something that’s similar here — you each asked four questions, and maybe that’s what you are allowed to ask by the campaign or the White House.”

“But they were essentially the same questions, both interviews — about accomplishments, progress in your respective state, what’s at stake in the election, what he has to say about his debate performance, and what he would say to voters who don’t think their vote doesn’t matter or might sit this election out.”

“Were those questions given to you by the White House, or the campaign, or did you have to submit questions ahead of this interview?” he asked. Lawful-Sanders, the host of “The Source” on WURD, explained “The questions were sent to me for approval; I approved of them.”

“I got several questions — eight of them,” Lawful-Sanders added. “And the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved.”

A campaign official explained Saturday of the two interviews, “If you listen to these interviews, it is abundantly clear what the president meant. This would be considered a perfectly normal speech pattern for any other person in America, and has certainly been normal for Joe Biden for his entire career.” In addition to being 81 years old, Biden has been public about his lifelong stutter and the impact the speech disorder has had on him.

Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt addressed the practice in a statement, “It’s not at all uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer. These questions were relevant to the news of the day — the president was asked about this debate performance as well as what he’d delivered for Black Americans.”

“We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions, and hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners,” she added.

Both interviews were part of an effort by the Biden campaign to reach large the audiences of shows with large Black followings. It was not made clear ahead of the interviews that the questions were provided by the Biden campaign.

Despite having a leg up in terms of questions, Biden still wobbled while speaking to Lawful-Sanders. After one question, Biden said he was proud to have been “the first Black woman to serve with a Black president.”

Biden’s rival, Republican candidate Donald Trump, recently canceled an interview when hosts declined to agree to questions suggested by his campaign. Another reporter has shared that the Trump campaign vets questions before accepting an interview, which the Biden campaign has not done.

In a second interview with “The Earl Ingram Show” on WMCS, Biden appeared to stumble through an explanation about why voting matters.

Blackwell told the hosts, “The reason I ask is not a criticism of either of you. It’s just that if the White House is trying now to prove the vim, vigor, acuity of the president, I don’t know how they do that by sending questions first, before the interviews, so that the president knows what’s coming.”

Comedian D.L. Hughley noted that, when he interviewed Biden in May, he “asked whatever the hell I wanted” and added, “I wouldn’t have done the interview if I couldn’t!!” That interview, while initially scheduled for 10 minutes, ended up lasting an hour, according to a Biden campaign aide.

Lawful-Sanders told the Washington Post of her interview with Biden, “When I was asked to do this interview it was most important to me to have the voices of the Black people heard. I never once felt pressured to ask certain questions.” She noted that she “chose questions that were most important to the Black and brown communities we serve in … Philadelphia. Those questions proved to be exactly what Black and brown communities desired.”

The campaign also noted that Biden, beyond these interviews, responded to questions in both the ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos and a press gaggle on Friday.

TheWrap’s Mike Roe also contributed to this story.

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