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Democrats, media demand Biden do more interviews, press conferences amid debate fallout

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Democrats, media demand Biden do more interviews, press conferences amid debate fallout


Members of the media and prominent Democrats are calling on President Biden to engage more with the press following a disastrous debate performance that left many worried about the president’s chances of beating Donald Trump in the fall. 

“The only way for him and the campaign to respond is not by talking to senators or governors, because this is not a tell me situation. It’s a show me situation. So he’d have to be out and about in the hurly-burly of a campaign, open-ended press conferences with folks like you, engagements with voters that are unscripted,” Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vt., told CNN on Wednesday. “I do think that the response here would have to involve being very much in the public in an unscripted situation, as opposed to a few interviews or conversations with governors.”

Biden, who has done fewer formal interviews and press conferences than any of his recent predecessors, joined ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to President Bill Clinton, for an interview on Friday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that Biden also plans to hold a press conference during the upcoming NATO summit. 

“An interview at this point would just be a Band-Aid on a giant, gaping bullet hole. This body President Biden is bleeding out, and a single interview is not going to change that. The news in the last couple of hours is just even more damning for him,” former CNN media reporter Brian Stelter said during an interview on the network on Tuesday, prior to the news that Biden would sit down with ABC. 

President Joe Biden stands at his podium during the first presidential debate of the 2024 elections between himself and former president Donald Trump at CNN’s studios in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, June 27, 2024. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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“I think instead of just an interview, think about another debate. Think about a rematch between Trump and Biden. Think about a series of press conferences. Think about a series of town halls that would be a little bit more, I think, in the realm of what might help at this point. But, an interview. It’s a Band-Aid on a bullet hole,” he said, speaking to CNN’s Brianna Keilar. 

Keilar questioned whether Biden needed to mirror something like a debate, without a teleprompter “for an extended period of time.”

“And this raises a question about whether he can, in other words, if he could do that, he would do that by now,” Stelter responded. “If he could hold a primetime news conference, he probably would.”

After the ABC interview aired on Friday, ABC correspondent Jon Karl said it did nothing to quell the fears of “jittery Democrats who fear that Joe Biden is on a trajectory to lose this race.”

“In fact, for some of those people, the interview is raising new concerns, particularly the fact that he is unwilling or unaware of the fact that he is in a dire situation here regarding the campaign, that he is losing, in the view of many Democrats and frankly in the polls you cited, that he is losing to Donald Trump,” he said.

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Former Obama adviser David Axelrod also said the ABC interview did little to quell Democratic panic.

“Only ‘the Lord Almighty’ could persuade him to give up the race, the president said, as a growing chorus of Democrats, fearful of an electoral disaster, call for him to step aside,” Axelrod wrote. “Denial. Delusion. Defiance.”

Republican strategist Doug Heye said Wednesday on CNN that Biden needed to get himself back out there and answer questions from reporters. He also brought up Biden deciding not to sit for a live interview on Super Bowl Sunday. Heye said the reasoning, according to the White House, was that he didn’t want to politicize the day.

The president ended up posting a video to social media that took aim at “shrinkflation” during the Super Bowl. 

President Biden and former President Trump participate in the CNN Presidential Debate in Atlanta on June 27, 2024. (Kyle Mazza/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“So they did want to politicize the day,” Heye said of the video. “But the message that was sent was that they don‘t trust Biden to do a sit-down interview. It wouldn‘t go well for him. And I think now we know why if we didn‘t know that all along.” 

Kate Bedingfield, a former Biden White House communications director, said Wednesday on CNN that the interview with Stephanopoulos might have been taped because of “scheduling” issues, but explained a different issue with the strategy when a CNN host asked if she would have pushed for a live interview.

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“I think live versus taped when you’re doing a significant network sit-down is not that big of a differentiation, to be honest with you,” Bedingfield said. “What I would have pushed for is for him to be out earlier. There has been a lag between the debate performance and when we’re going to see him out again answering questions.”

“Put the president out there in various ways in which, you know, he will shine. Again, I think town halls, doing things with voters, real people, where he is answering questions from regular folks, will make the difference. I do think the president could rise to that occasion,” MSNBC’s Symone Sanders Townsend said on Tuesday. 

Townsend, who worked for Vice President Harris before heading to MSNBC, said Biden was his own best political consultant.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a big supporter of the president, also called on him to do interviews with “serious” journalists. She said he would need to do more than one. 

“My recommendation is for him to have some interviews with serious journalists, you among them, a serious journalist, no holds barred, any question’s fair, and just sit there and be Joe, show your value, show your knowledge, show your judgment, show your empathy for the American people. And I think that would be a great thing for him. Not one, maybe two, a couple of those. I think that is essential. I think it is essential for them to do that,” she said. 

Axios senior media reporter Sara Fischer argued Biden needs more unscripted public appearances to prove he can be quick on his feet to the American public. (CNN)

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Axios senior media reporter Sara Fischer, a CNN senior media analyst, argued on Thursday that President Biden’s upcoming ABC interview won’t be enough to fix his reputation with the American people.

“So one of the things that the president is trying to argue is ‘Don‘t look at this 90-minute debate. Look at my 3.5 years,'” Fischer said. “Well, the challenge also works on the flipside, if you don‘t want us to believe what we saw, then give us multiple examples of you being able to do a live, unscripted interview, so we can see that this was just a one-off, if that‘s what you claim.”

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said Friday that Biden needed to answer the question, “is he capable of moving forward?”

“He knows he needs to answer that question. He needs to answer it in interviews, he needs to answer it in press conferences, he needs to answer it at the NATO Summit. He needs to answer it in everything he does,” Scarborough said. 

President Biden and former President Donald Trump debate at the CNN Studios on June 27, 2024, in Atlanta. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

Former Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan said Wednesday that Biden’s ABC interview wasn’t going to help. He told CNN that, “Nothing that’s been happening is encouraging.”

“It’s got to be a lot more than that,” Ryan said, suggesting the president do interviews and town halls in “hostile” environments. 

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The president also spoke to two radio hosts in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin for interviews that aired on Thursday. Both hosts, Andrea Lawful Sanders and Earl Ingram, revealed that they were sent questions for the interviews ahead of time by the Biden campaign. 

Sanders said she approved four questions from the White House to ask in the interview. 

Several key Biden allies have stuck by the president following the debate, including Pelosi and Clyburn, despite several Democrats and liberal media outlets calling on Biden to drop out. 



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