Only the ‘Lord Almighty’ could convince me to quit – Biden

US President Joe Biden has said only the “Lord Almighty” could convince him to end his bid for re-election, as he sat for a rare primetime interview in an effort to calm Democratic concern over his candidacy.

Speaking to ABC News on Friday, Mr Biden also declined to take a cognitive test and make the results public in order to reassure voters he is fit to serve another term.

“I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test – everything I do [is a test],” he told George Stephanopoulos.

The 81-year-old once again pushed back on the idea, aired by some Democratic officials and donors, that he should stand aside for a younger alternative following his disastrous debate with Donald Trump last week. Throughout the interview, Mr Stephanopoulos pressed the president on his capacity to serve another term, asking Mr Biden if he was in denial about his health and ability to win.

“I don’t think anybody’s more qualified to be president or win this race than me,” Mr Biden said, blaming his poor performance last week on exhaustion and a “bad cold”. In the 22-minute interview, he also:

  • Attempted to ease Democratic fears he had lost ground to Donald Trump since the debate, saying pollsters he had spoken to said the race was a “toss-up”
  • Rejected suggestions allies may ask him to stand aside. “It’s not going to happen,” he said
  • Dismissed repeated questions about what would compel him to leave the race. “If the Lord Almighty came down and said, ‘Joe, get out of the race,’ I’d get out of the race,” he said. “The Lord Almighty’s not coming down”

The president answered questions more clearly than he did on the debate stage last week, but his voice again sounded weak and occasionally hoarse.

It was a sharp contrast to his performance at a rally in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday, where an energised Mr Biden acknowledged his disastrous performance in last week’s CNN debate. “Ever since then, there’s been a lot of speculation. What’s Joe going to do?” he told the crowd.

“Here’s my answer. I am running and going to win again,” Mr Biden said, as supporters in the crucial battleground state cheered his name.

The interview and the rally come at a critical moment for his campaign, with donors and Democratic allies considering whether to stick with him.

The campaign is aware that the next few days could make or break his re-election bid, according to various reports in US media, as Mr Biden seeks to regain ground that he lost to his Republican rival Donald Trump following the debate.

As he took the stage at the rally, Mr Biden passed one voter who was holding a sign reading “Pass the torch, Joe”. Another voter who stood outside the venue held a sign that read “Save your legacy, drop out!”.

“I see all these stories that say I’m too old,” Mr Biden said at the rally, before triumphing his record in the White House. “Was I too old to create 15 million jobs?” he said. “Was I too old to erase student debt for five million Americans?”

“Do you think I’m too old to beat Donald Trump?” he asked, as the crowd responded “no”.

Referencing Trump’s criminal conviction in New York, and the other charges he is facing in separate cases, he called his rival a “one-man crime wave”.

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