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Biden campaign gave questions to radio host before interview


Biden campaign gave questions to radio host before interview

Two radio hosts said Saturday they were supplied questions from aides to President Biden before separate interviews with him this week, a move that a campaign spokeswoman defended as routine.

“It’s not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer,” Biden campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said in a statement. She added that agreeing on topics in advance was not a prerequisite of the interview.

The acknowledgment by Biden’s campaign comes as it has been criticized for heavily controlling his public events to minimize potential gaffes during unscripted appearances.

During a 90-minute debate on June 27, the 81-year-old Democrat appeared tired and confused, and at times he delivered rambling answers. His presumptive Republican opponent, 78-year-old former president Donald Trump, unleashed a flurry of falsehoods during the debate, which CNN hosted. The parties decided in advance not to have their moderators fact-check in real time.

Throughout his three campaigns since 2016, Trump has spread inaccurate statements on a wide range of issues. Still, Biden’s performance on the debate stage has come into particular focus this week after several Democrats, liberal media voices and donors called on him to drop out of the race, or risk losing not just the White House but also control of both houses of Congress.

As part of a coordinated pushback, the White House press secretary announced on Wednesday that Biden had recorded two radio interviews that would air the following morning: one with Earl Ingram, whose show is broadcast across Wisconsin, and another with Andrea Lawful-Sanders on WURD’s “The Source” in Philadelphia.

Both radio hosts appeared on CNN on Saturday, where host Victor Blackwell said the interviews featured questions that were eerily similar. “Were those questions given to you by the White House, or the campaign, or did you have to submit questions ahead of this interview?” Blackwell asked Lawful-Sanders.

“The questions were sent to me for approval. I approved of them,” she said.

Seeking confirmation, Blackwell followed up and asked: “So the White House sent the questions to you ahead of the interview?” Lawful-Sanders replied, “Yes. I got several questions, eight of them. And the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved.” Campaign aides said they sent the proposed questions, not officials from the White House.

Trump’s campaign has made similar moves. Last month, Trump’s campaign abruptly canceled an interview with a local reporter in Virginia after asking the reporter what questions he planned to ask, 13News Now reported.

During the CNN interview, Lawful-Sanders said her audience is primarily focused on the policy differences between Biden and Trump.

Ingram was not asked about the questions he had asked Biden, but the radio host later told ABC News, “Yes, I was given some questions for Biden.” Ingram said he was given five questions and asked Biden four of them, according to the outlet. “I didn’t get a chance to ask him all the things I wanted to ask,” he said. An email sent to Ingram on Saturday afternoon was not immediately returned.

Hitt, the campaign spokeswoman, said in the statement that the questions “were relevant to 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.”

President Biden sat down for an interview with ABC News on July 5 to discuss the 2024 campaign, one week after his debate with former president Donald Trump. (Video: JM Rieger/ABC News)

She also said that Biden has answered various questions from the media after returning from Wisconsin as well as the interview with George Stephanopoulos that was shown on ABC. “Americans have had several opportunities to see him unscripted since the debate,” Hitt said.

Later on Saturday, Lawful-Sanders sent a statement defending her interview and how questions were negotiated in advance.

“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,” Lawful-Sanders said. “I 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.”

Matt Viser contributed to this report.

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