Biden On Debate Woes: 'It Was A Bad Episode'

President Joe Biden speaks with the press Friday before boarding Air Force One in Madison, Wisconsin.
President Joe Biden speaks with the press Friday before boarding Air Force One in Madison, Wisconsin. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

In his first sit-down interview since the June 27 debate with Donald Trump, President Joe Biden tried to reassure voters his disastrous performance was a “bad episode” rather than a pattern of advanced aging that interferes with his ability to campaign and govern.

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Biden to respond to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments wondering whether Biden’s performance was “an episode” or the result of a deteriorating “condition.”

“It was a bad episode ― no indication of any serious condition,” Biden responded in an excerpt of the full interview, scheduled to air Friday evening. “I was exhausted.”

Stephanopoulos then asked why Biden was exhausted if he had spent six days preparing for the debate at Camp David in Maryland.

“Because I was sick. I was feeling terrible,” he said, explaining that he asked his medical team to test him for COVID-19 but adding he tested negative. “They just said I had a really bad cold.”

Biden also said he hadn’t watched the debate since it occurred. In a rambling answer, though, he suggested he was aware at the time that he was doing poorly.

“The whole way I prepared ― nobody’s fault, mine, nobody’s fault but mine ― I prepared what I usually would do, sitting down, as I did, come back with foreign leaders or the National Security Council for explicit detail,” Biden said. “And I realized part way through that ― you know, I get quoted, The New York Times had me down 10 points before the debate, 9 now, or whatever the hell it is. The fact of the matter is that, what I looked at is that he [Trump] also lied 28 times. I couldn’t ― I mean, the way the debate ran ― my fault, no one else’s fault.”

The New York Times’ latest national poll showed Biden trailing Trump by 6 percentage points among likely voters, an increase from a 3 point gap before the debate. And the survey had Biden trailing Trump by 9 points among all registered voters, an increase from 6 points before the debate.

Following Biden’s citation of various factors, such as Trump’s lies and the debate format, Stephanopoulos finally asked why Biden had struggled from the very beginning of the debate.

“Well, I just had a bad night,” he said.