After Biden’s TV interview: Doubts about suitability persist


Lerato Khumalo

With a prime-time interview, US President Biden wants to put a new spin on the debate about his suitability for another term in office. The doubts are not so easy to shake off.

In a TV interview, US President Joe Biden has attempted to dispel the considerable doubts about his suitability as a presidential candidate – but they persist. “The president is rightly proud of his record,” wrote David Axelrod, former chief strategist to former President Barack Obama, on the online platform X. “But he is dangerously alienated from people’s concerns about his abilities and his position in this race.”

The 20-minute conversation with ABC News was actually intended to limit the damage. While Biden tried to focus on the successes of his time in office, journalist George Stephanopoulos did not deviate from the topic of his continued suitability. It was not about political content at all.

At 81, the oldest US president in history reacted intransigently and said, among other things, that only God could persuade him to withdraw. Biden questioned polls that showed that he had continued to lose support in recent days. He also refused to take a medical test to check his mental fitness, even after several inquiries from Stephanopoulos. He also refused to elaborate on what would happen if confidants warned him that his behavior would also have a negative impact on the majorities in the US Congress. Everyone would tell him to stay in the race, Biden explained.

In the November election, not only the presidency but also many seats in parliament will be reassigned. There is growing fear among Democrats that the Republicans could have control of both the White House and Congress in the future. Four Democratic members of the House of Representatives have already publicly called for Biden to withdraw from the race, and two others have made public their assessment that Biden cannot win against his Republican challenger Donald Trump.

However, doubts about the Democrat’s suitability are still being expressed behind closed doors, with criticism being communicated indirectly through the US media. There are increasing numbers of corresponding statements from staff of unnamed members of Congress. These messages could become even louder in the coming days – there is a week of sessions in Congress ahead. According to reports, further defectors are expected in the party.

For example, Senator Mark Warner is trying to rally a group of Democrats behind him to convince Biden to drop out of the race. According to reports, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is also planning a meeting with high-ranking Democrats in his chamber tomorrow to discuss the situation.

However, Biden is also receiving public support, for example from his long-time party colleague, Senator Chris Coons. He praised Biden’s political performance on X and wrote: “I can’t wait to help him continue the fight against Trump and win in November.” Senator John Fetterman also wrote on X that the Democrats must now show backbone and added: “Joe Biden is our man.”

Democratic Representative Mike Quigley, who had openly called on Biden to withdraw shortly before the interview aired, contradicted Fetterman on CNN, saying it takes backbone to “recognize that the President of the United States does not have the energy to overcome the deficit here and that this will have implications for all of us.”