In a captivating interview, President Biden aimed to address concerns about his age while emphasizing his unmatched experience as he embarks on a potential second term. During the interview with MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle, which aired on Friday night, Mr. Biden sought to downplay his age, asserting that he had acquired a wealth of wisdom and surpassed the vast majority of people in knowledge. He confidently stated, “And I’m more experienced than anybody that’s ever run for the office. And I think I’ve proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”
Recognizing that he would turn 86 at the conclusion of a second term if elected, President Biden has recently made efforts to reassure voters about his age, presenting it as an asset rather than a hindrance to his candidacy. In the interview, he also expressed that Vice President Kamala Harris “hasn’t gotten the credit she deserves” and highlighted her noteworthy accomplishments as California’s former attorney general and senator.
The extensive interview provided a platform for President Biden to make his case for re-election amidst imminent potential crises, including the deployment of American troops to the southern border and the looming threat of the federal government defaulting on its debt. In comparison to his predecessors, President Biden has held fewer news conferences and rarely engaged in interviews with journalists, opting instead for more congenial celebrity interviews or lighthearted social media videos. The interview with Ms. Ruhle, known for her sympathetic stance towards Mr. Biden and Democratic causes, was broadcast on a Friday night at 10 p.m.
During the interview, President Biden indicated that he was not yet ready to invoke a clause in the 14th Amendment that would compel the federal government to continue issuing new debt in the event of a cash shortage. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen recently cautioned that such a situation could arise as early as June 1. President Biden revealed, “I’ve not gotten there yet,” indicating his cautious approach to taking such action.
Republicans have demanded significant spending cuts before agreeing to raise the debt limit. However, President Biden has consistently stated that he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling, citing previous instances in which it was raised multiple times during former President Donald J. Trump’s administration without issue. He reiterated this stance in the interview, expressing his willingness to negotiate on federal spending as long as it remained separate from debt-ceiling discussions.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” President Biden exclaimed, reiterating his previous claims about the presence of extremists within the GOP. He further emphasized the need to communicate clearly with the American people about his readiness to engage in detailed budget negotiations. He posed crucial questions, stating, “How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?”
President Biden is scheduled to meet with Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House next week to discuss a way forward. An essential negotiating partner in this process will be Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who recently introduced a bill to raise the debt ceiling while proposing spending cuts and dismantling significant elements of President Biden’s domestic agenda. Although the legislation is unlikely to succeed, it has provided Mr. McCarthy the opportunity to claim that he has fulfilled his part.
During the interview, President Biden described Mr. McCarthy as an “honest man” but expressed concern that he had made concessions to the far-right wing of his party in his pursuit of becoming House speaker. He commented, “He’s agreed to things that maybe he believes, but are just extreme.”
Addressing another contentious issue, President Biden defended his decision to deploy 1,500 troops to the border with Mexico. With the lifting of pandemic-era immigration restrictions, there is a potential surge of migrants anticipated.
He also said that his son Hunter, who is the subject of a federal investigation into his business dealings, was innocent and that he did not think his son’s legal problems would harm his presidency.
“My son has done nothing wrong,” Mr. Biden said. “I trust him. I have faith in him. And it impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.”