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President Biden had a high-stakes interview. How did it go?


Democrats have been in panic mode this week over whether President Biden has what it takes to win and serve another four years, all this after last month's disastrous debate. So yesterday, President Biden addressed these concerns in a high-profile TV interview that ran in full, unedited during prime time. NPR political reporter Elena Moore joins us now to talk about how it went. Hey, Elena.


FLORIDO: Tell us about this interview. What stood out to you?

MOORE: This interview went to the heart of Biden's biggest Achilles heel - whether he's still up for the job at 81. ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos addressed this head-on. He focused on Biden's physical and mental ability to do the job and run again. He asked whether Biden would be willing to have a cognitive test, and Biden said he didn't need it. And Biden says he's confident he's more popular than the polls make it seem. Listen to this exchange about it.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, I've never seen a president at 36% approval get reelected.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, I don't believe that's my approval rating. That's not what our polls show.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?

BIDEN: I'll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the good as job as I know I can do, that's what this is about.

FLORIDO: That response, Elena, not the kind that I think would inspire a ton of confidence in people who are already worried about his chances. What has been the reaction from Democrats to this?

MOORE: Well, so it's early. I mean, we haven't seen a rush of Democratic leaders come out and praise the interview. But today, we saw another Democrat call for Biden to drop out. This time, it was Minnesota's Angie Craig, who's got a tough race this fall. She's one of a handful of Democrats to come out publicly so far.

I was traveling with Biden yesterday in Wisconsin, and we asked him about Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who has been trying to organize a group of other Democratic senators to call for Biden to bow out of the race. And Biden dismissed it and said Warner is the only senator he knows who feels this way. But we could get more details from Capitol Hill really soon. I mean, my colleagues who cover Congress say that the top House Democrats are actually meeting about this tomorrow.

FLORIDO: And so what are Democrats looking for at this point?

MOORE: Well, I mean, Biden says the debate was just one bad night, so supporters are looking for proof of that. I mean, yesterday I watched Biden deliver a pretty fiery speech in Madison. He repeatedly rejected calls to drop out. And, you know, he said his age hasn't stopped him from delivering on a ton of policy promises. But notably, you know, that was all said with the help of a teleprompter. And people are really yearning for those unscripted moments like the ABC interview.

FLORIDO: So to be clear, Elena, Biden is really doubling down here.

MOORE: Yeah.

FLORIDO: He's saying with conviction that he has no plans to drop out.

MOORE: Right. And yesterday on the tarmac, actually just before we left Wisconsin, we asked Biden, you know, why not let someone younger take the country forward, giving the example of, you know, like, every CEO has a succession plan, right? And Biden kind of brushed it off. He brushed that question off, you know, saying along the lines of, we do have a succession plan, but it's not needed right now. He says he thinks he's the most qualified person to defeat Trump in November. But, you know, soon we're going to start seeing more polling about the debate, and that could shape the conversation here.

FLORIDO: I've been speaking with NPR political reporter Elena Moore. Thanks so much.

MOORE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.