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‘I Screwed Up’: Biden Makes Candid Admission After First Presidential Debate

3 minute read

President Joe Biden, 81, has spoken out following his much-criticized performance during the first 2024 presidential debate on Thursday, June 27. In a radio interview with Civic Media’s The Earl Ingram Show, which aired in full on July 4 following the release of a snippet preview, the Democratic Party leader reflected on the debate.

“I had a bad night, and the fact of the matter is that, you know... I screwed up. I made a mistake,” he said. Pointing to his presidential tenure, Biden added: “That’s 90 minutes on stage. Look at what I’ve done in 3.5 years.”

Biden has sparked concern after he was seen stumbling over his words and seemingly losing his train of thought during certain parts of the debate, which took place at CNN’s Atlanta studios and was co-moderated by journalists Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. At one notable point, after Biden finished answering a question about immigration and border security, presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump said of his opponent: “I really don't know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don't think he knows what he said either.”

Read More: Trump Claims People Said He ‘Had the Greatest Performance in History of Presidential Debates’

Following the debate, there have been loud calls for Biden to step aside. Some are vying for the President to allow Vice President Kamala Harris to take his place ahead of the 2024 Democratic National Convention, which is set to be held in Chicago from Aug. 19 to Aug. 22. Within the Democratic Party, some sitting members have also voiced their wish for the President to withdraw from the 2024 election before the all-important November vote. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has hit back at reports Biden is set to withdraw. “The President is clear-eyed and he is staying in the race,” she said, firmly. And Biden himself has made an effort to rally the public following his performance.

Read More: ‘I’m in This Race to the End’: Biden Digs His Heels as Calls to Drop Out Grow Louder

On Friday, June 28, the day after the debate, Biden showed his defiant stance during a campaign rally in North Carolina. Acknowledging concerns over his age and debate performance, yet insisting he is up for the job, Biden told a cheering crowd: “I don’t walk as easy as I used to. 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. And I know, like millions of Americans know, when you get knocked down, you get back up.”

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Write to Olivia-Anne Cleary at olivia-anne.cleary@time.com