Biden after criticism of TV debate: “I don’t debate as well as I used to”

After his weak performance in the first TV debate before the US presidential election, incumbent Joe Biden is still under massive pressure. In its editorial published on Friday (local time), the influential newspaper “New York Times” called on Biden to give up his candidacy. Biden, however, presented himself combatively at a campaign appearance in North Carolina.

Biden – at 81 years old, the oldest president in US history – spoke with a hoarse voice during the TV debate with his challenger Donald Trump on CNN on Thursday evening and repeatedly got tangled up in his formulations. He also left sentences unfinished and began to stutter.

At an appearance in North Carolina, the US President tried to refute the criticism. “I don’t walk as casually as I used to, I don’t speak as fluently as I used to, I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know how to tell the truth,” he told Democratic supporters in the city of Raleigh.

“I give you my word. I would not run again if I did not believe with all my heart and soul that I can do this job,” Biden assured.

Referring to his rival Trump, Biden pointed to the numerous false claims he made during the TV debate. “I think he set a new record for the most lies in a single debate,” said the 81-year-old, calling his challenger “literally a threat to everything America stands for.”

The New York Times called on the US president to withdraw his candidacy after his weak performance. The greatest service Biden could now do for the country “would be to announce that he will not run in the election,” wrote the so-called Editorial Board, a group of opinion journalists that works separately from the editorial staff, in an editorial.

Biden, on the other hand, received support from former President Obama. “Bad debate nights happen,” Biden’s former boss wrote on the online service X. But the election is “still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary people his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.”

Another debate between the two candidates for the November 5 presidential election is scheduled for September 20.

Trump, who had appeared much more energetic and focused in the duel, went after Biden again at a campaign event in Virginia: “It’s not his age, it’s his competence,” said the 78-year-old former president. The question should not be whether Biden can survive a 90-minute TV debate, but whether America can survive another four-year term.

However, Trump said he thought it was unlikely that Biden would give up: “I don’t think so because he’s doing better in the polls than any of the Democrats they’re talking about,” he said.

A CNN poll after the debate found that 67 percent of viewers saw Trump as the winner of the debate, which caused unrest in the Democratic ranks. According to a report in the New York Times, there is even a debate within the party about whether it is too late to replace Biden with a younger candidate four months before the presidential election.

So far, no leading party representative has publicly called on Biden to withdraw. “I will never turn my back on President Biden,” assured California Governor Gavin Newsom, who is at the top of the list of possible replacement candidates. Biden’s Vice President Kamala Harris also backed him after the debate.

A change in the Democratic presidential candidate would be politically sensitive. Biden himself would have to decide to withdraw in order to make room for another candidate before the party convention next month. The incumbent won the Democratic primaries with an overwhelming majority, and the total of 3,900 delegates are committed to him. If Biden were to drop out, they would have to choose a replacement.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) expressed concern about a possible return of Trump to the White House. “If you think about candidate Trump’s last term in office, one of the biggest challenges was the unpredictability,” she said on Friday at a panel hosted by the German editorial network, NDR and the “Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung”. In these times, however, trust and reliability are “more important than ever before.”