Joe Biden Defends His Mental Capacity in ABC News Interview: 5

Joe Biden just gave what’s arguably the most important media interview of his 54-year political career.

The embattled president sat down with ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos on Friday to try and reassure voters about his health and reelection fitness.

In a preview clip released from the interview, Biden continued to maintain he just had “a bad night.”

“It was a bad episode,” he said. “No indication of any serious condition. I was exhausted. I didn’t listen to my instincts in terms of preparing and … and a bad night.”

Pressed if he watched his own debate performance, Biden replied, “I don’t think I did, no.”

The full interview will air as a primetime special on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

Biden’s words come as some — such as CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta — are saying the president should undergo neurological testing (specifically, for Parkinsons) with a specialist trained to make such a diagnosis. The White House has previously maintained that Biden’s personal doctor has said he’s fit for office.

Biden is facing calls to step down in the wake of his faltering live 90-minute debate performance last Thursday against Donald Trump. The debate raised questions about his mental capacity and provoked a swarm of media reports detailing behind-the-scenes White House staffers’ efforts to limit access to the president while making his job less physically demanding, all while maintaining the commander-in-chief was as “sharp as a tack.”

Originally, ABC News announced a staggered roll out of clips from the interview across the weekend that would eventually lead to an “extended” version being aired on Sunday. But critics suggested that ABC News was going too easy on Biden by not doing a live interview and not committing to releasing the full version. While Friday’s interview isn’t airing live, ABC News has pledged that it will air the full sit-down.

The scoop going to Stephanopoulos has also resulted in some conservative criticism that suggested the White House picked an interviewer who has — fairly or unfairly — been considered more friendly to the administration than some. Former GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley jabbed at Stephanopoulos on Tuesday by re-posting a clip from last year where the ABC News anchor dismissed her prediction that Biden would eventually have to step down for health reasons. Stephanopoulos has worked for ABC News for more than 20 years, but previously served as former President Bill Clinton’s senior adviser for policy and strategy during his first term after being part of the Clinton campaign team during the 1992 election.

ABC News is also hosting the second debate between Biden and Trump, which is currently slated for Sept. 10. Stephanopoulos previously told Stephen Colbert on CBS’ Late Show that he won’t be a moderator in the debate since Trump is currently suing him for defamation.

Since last Thursday’s debate, the Biden administration and its supporters have been furiously defending the president, maintaining he merely had a “bad night” and insisting that he remains the best equipped Democrat to take on Trump in November. Yet calls for Biden to step aside to allow other potential candidates secure the nomination have continued. On Tuesday, veteran Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett became the first sitting Democratic member of Congress to call on Biden to quit the race.

Post-debate polling is still relatively sparse, but some early indications suggest Trump has widened his lead to about six points ahead of Biden nationally.

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