Biden ignores calls to retire: ‘I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know how to do this job’

The U.S. president attacked Trump at a rally in North Carolina after his disastrous performance at the presidential debate on Thursday

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S., June 28, 2024.Elizabeth Frantz (REUTERS)
Miguel Jiménez

Joe Biden is ready to fight. In front of a devoted audience, the U.S. president said he is determined to run for re-election, despite calls for him to step aside following his disastrous performance in Thursday’s debate against Republican Donald Trump.

Biden appeared Friday at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, a state which he lost to Trump in the 2020 election, but not by a wide margin. “I’m here in North Carolina for one reason because I intend to win this state in November,” he said, trying to strike a defiant tone. “We win here, and we win the election.”

“I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” he continued. “I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. And I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”

“It’s hard to debate a liar,” Biden told reporters on Thursday after the debate. But the president’s main problem was not the difficulty of refuting the lies of Trump — who emerged victorious from the debate with his apocalyptic and demagogic messages — it was his stuttering performance, filled with lapses, hesitation and incomplete sentences. He coughed frequently, his voice was strained, and he couldn’t shake off a certain hoarseness, which was apparently due to a cold. On Friday, he appeared in better shape, but still had some coughing.

As Biden’s followers chanted “four more years,” the president read from the teleprompter, harshly criticizing Trump for spouting misinformation. At the rally, Biden said that Trump set “a new record for the most lies told in a single debate” and that he had the “morals of an alley cat” — a line he also used in Thursday’s debate.

Biden Estados Unidos
President Joe Biden, right, and first lady Jill Biden, left, walk to the stage to speak at a campaign rally, joined in background by Eric Fitts, Friday, June 28, 2024, in Raleigh, N.C. Evan Vucci (AP/ LaPresse)

“Lock him up”

It was a supportive audience. “Donald Trump isn’t just a convicted felon. Donald Trump is a one-man crime wave,” said Biden as the crowd chanted “Lock him up,” in an echo of Trump supporters’ chants about Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Biden once again presented Trump as a threat to democracy, the economy and the future of the country, some of his usual arguments. His speech was short and direct, much more effective than his performance in Thursday’s debate. “The choice in this election is simple. Donald Trump will destroy our democracy, I will defend it,” he said.

First lady Jill Biden — who has been called on to convince her husband to throw in the towel — also took part in the campaign rally, wearing a black dress covered with the word “Vote.” She said that “right now” Biden he is the best person to take on Trump. “What you saw last night on the debate stage was Joe Biden: a president with integrity and character,” she told the crowd. “He told the truth. And Donald Trump told lie after lie after lie.”

Biden’s campaign billed the Raleigh event as the biggest rally of his re-election bid in North Carolina, which Trump won by the narrowest margin in 2020. The president will then travel to New York for a weekend of fundraising, with his campaign more in need of donations than ever.

The Biden campaign announced that it raised $14 million on the day of the debate and the morning after, while the Trump campaign said it raised more than $8 million between the start of the debate and the end of the night.

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