Biden's make-or-break interview felt like a medical consultation

It was the world's biggest job interview.

Joe Biden's grilling on primetime TV was a test of suitability for the dual role of president and election winner, when many had already reached the conclusion he's neither.

This 22-minute Q&A with ABC's George Stephanopoulos felt make or break and, in the event, it was probably more break than make.

To be fair, Biden turned in a steady performance and there was no repeat of the debate meltdown. His difficulty was in the content and context.

This was the president of the United States no less and, while there was some discussion of political affairs, it felt like a medical consultation.

Joe Biden looked his 81 years as he talked through his "bad episode" on stage with Donald Trump, with the pleading eyes and resigned air of a man losing his fight.

This, on a night when doubters in the Democratic Party needed to see dynamism and to hear a rationale to inspire continued support - they need to know the hard reasoning as to why Biden's trajectory will turn and they want to see his workings.

They didn't get that from a president on camera, who discounted polls that show him behind Trump and said "only the Lord Almighty" could make him exit the race.

When asked how he'd feel if he lost to Donald Trump, he replied: "I'll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that's what this is about."

He'll have to do "gooder" than that. This is a president who has warned that Trump presents an existential threat to US democracy.

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To Democrats who concur, talk of a "best effort" isn't enough. What this is about to them is decision-making, strategic and unsentimental, that has only victory at its end.

To hear their leader contemplate "catastrophe" - albeit hypothetically and prompted by a question - will further drive the mood for change.

Increasingly, Democrats are going public with demands that Biden step down, for fear of losing the White House and, with it, the Senate and House of Representatives too.

Members of the party are mobilising against the president and the movement gains momentum by the day.

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They won't enjoy the sound of a president defiant and determined to stay in the race.

They, and he, know how messy that could get for the party.

It might just be the scenario that saves him.