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Press Briefing By Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre About President Joe Biden Staying In The Race. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 14:00   ET



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The most in modern politics, and that should matter, and he wants to continue to do that work.

And you know, a lot of his -- what's on his agenda is very much popular with majority of the American people. Weather it's continuing to build a strong rec -- economic -- kind of economic policies, he's done that. Creating new jobs, he's done that, 15 million jobs. He wants to work on that and continue to do that.

And so, he wants to continue to deliver, expanding health care. All of these things he believes is important. Majority of Americans believe it's important. And his record, he wants to make sure that people do not forget about the record that he's been able to lay it on behalf of the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anything, Karine, that would change his mind?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I cannot lay out something that would change the president's mind. He has been very clear, and he's going to continue to build on the unprecedented record that he's been able to lay out for the American people. That's his focus right now. Jacqui Heinrich.

JACQUI HEINRICH, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Karine. What does the president do outside the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you heard him speak to supporters yesterday outside of 4:00 p.m. You've heard -- you saw the president land in North Carolina in the middle of the night at 2:00. What was he doing? He was greeting supporters, hundreds of supporters that showed up to cheer him on after the debate. You saw him speaking at 9:00 or at night in New York in front of supporters.

So, he's been pretty, pretty much out there after the hours of 4:00 p.m. and before, before 10:00 a.m. for sure.

And so, that has been something he has consistently done over the past couple of days, for sure, for certain.

HEINRICH: Have an afternoon nap every day? JEAN-PIERRE: Let me be very clear about this, this is a president that wakes up every morning and puts the American people first. That's what he does. He does that every single day. That is his focus.

I am not going to speak to sources out there, unnamed sources out there. That's not what I'm going to speak to. I'm going to speak to what I know, what this president does, and how he is committed to the work of the president, of the commander in chief, and his record clearly lays that that -- lays that out and speaks to it.

And that's what he's going to continue to do. The American people first, the American people first, and delivering for them.

HEINRICH: Can you also clarify (INAUDIBLE) question?


HEINRICH: How is it that the president was still tired 12 days after returning from Europe, had a cold, but then went to the Waffle House, and then the following day, staged such a huge comeback that he gave those North Carolina remarks.

Like, help us understand --

JEAN-PIERRE: Have you had a cold before?

HEINRICH: Of course I've had a cold before.

JEAN-PIERRE: OK, so you probably -- look, come on. Come on, Jacqui, let's be very --

HEINRICH: It was 12 days after he returned though, and he blamed jet lagged yesterday.

JEAN-PIERRE: Hold on a second. There's a cold. There's a jet lag. You combine that, he continues to work on the -- for the American people day in and day out around the clock. Things happen -- things happen.

And the cold thing is something that you all pointed out during his debate. We didn't even point that out. You all pointed out when you heard his voice being hoarse because he knew he had to push through. He knew he has to power through. That's what presidents do.

If you care about this country, and you don't care about yourself, you care about the American people, you care about delivering for this country, you care about how you're going to continue to work every day in and day out. You push through.

We've all -- we've all -- we've all do that.

HEINRICH: The reason I asked is because all these Democrats --

JEAN-PIERRE: We've all do that.

HEINRICH: -- who are saying they want to see him. It speaks to that JEAN-PIERRE: But we're not -- we're not -- we're not -- we didn't share that information ahead of time. You all asked what was going on. And then we shared that information. We didn't use that -- we didn't use that before the debate.

You all asked, hey, is he under the weather, and we confirmed that he was under the weather. He pushed through. That's what this president does. He is going to continue to fight for the American people, so he pushed through it.

I think -- I think anybody who does that, not just the president should be commended, and he also said, you heard him say this on Friday. When you get knocked down, you get back up. That's what you saw.

HEINRICH: Is there any discussion that if the president were to suspend his campaign, that he would also resign? Are there any discussions about --

JEAN-PIERRE: No, absolutely noe.

HEINRICH: -- the vice president assuming his duties.

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not. Go ahead, Kelly O'Donnell.

KELLY O'DONNELL, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Does the president have a duty to review data? Like, polling information that's coming in, donor information, the fears and concerns or anxieties expressed by Democrats. Does he have a duty to review what's happening now?

JEAN-PIERRE: When you say a duty, can you say more about the duty piece?

O'DONNELL: He's absolutely running.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, well, he's saying that, and I'm sharing -- I'm sharing with you his view.


O'DONNELL: And we would invite the president to come here and tell us directly.

JEAN-PIERRE: Noted, Kelly.



O'DONNELL: That's inappropriate.

JEAN-PIERRE: As you heard on your colleague, the president of the WHA, that's inappropriate. Thank you, Kelly.

O'DONNELL: My question is, information is coming in and assessment is happening within the party. Does he have a duty to review that? Has he closed the door on reviewing the data?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, I'm going to be really mindful. Obviously, you're asking me about campaign numbers and data that's coming in.

And look, what I will -- what I will note is that this is a president that looks at everything, takes in all the information, it's important to him to do so. I don't want to get into hypotheticals here. That's not what I'm here to do.

What I can say is, in this moment, we move forward on building on this unprecedented record that the president has been able to lay out for the American people, and that's going to be our focus.

I don't want to get into hypotheticals. I don't want to get ahead into anything else.

O'DONNELL: It doesn't sound like closing the door to reviewing this over a period of time.

JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is the president is moving forward. He's moving forward as being president. He's moving forward with his campaign, as his campaign has been very, very clear about that. That's what I can -- that's what I can speak to, and that's what I can say, and that is the president's focus.

The president's focus is, how does he continue to do that work. And anything else that we're hearing or that's being reported is absolutely false.

O'DONNELL: Is the president telling people he's evaluating the --

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely false. That is absolutely false. I saw that reporting. We were not given enough time to get back to that reporting, just a couple of minutes, and we asked the president, the president responded directly when asked about this question, because we said that we would, and the president said it is no, it is absolutely false. That's coming directly from him.

O'DONNELL: What steps would the president be taking, or would you as a team plan to try to prevent another episode in public that would be deemed worrisome?

JEAN-PIERRE: I would not call it an episode. I would call it we had a bad night, right? It was not his best night. He had a cold. He was jet lagged. You heard directly from the president about this, and when we get back -- when we get knocked down, when he gets knocked down, he gets right back up.

And that's what I would I -- that's what I would focus on. The president continuing to be very steady and continuing to work on for the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to follow up on Kelly O'Donnell's question, do you think the president feels like the coming days are very critical for him, as he -- you know, you laid out all these events that he's going to be doing. Are these -- are these events very important for him to show to the American people that he still has the ability to be the nominee?

JEAN-PIERRE: I would say that this moment is critical, regardless of the debate or not. We are living in an important moment right now. Everything is at stake. And I got to be mindful, because this is all connected to what's happening in November.

And I think any leader would say they always have to prove to themselves to -- you know, to their constituents, right? It is a day in and a day out work.

And yes, the president is going to have engagement. He's going to be out there speaking to the American people.

Obviously, we mentioned Wisconsin. He's going to do an interview in Wisconsin as well. We talked about Pennsylvania.

But the president was also out last week, Atlanta and North Carolina and New York, where he saw supporters. This is a president that has been consistently out there talking directly to the American people.

He understands, as you all asked me about the economy and what people are feeling, he understands that they have to hear directly from him, and he has to continue to do that so that he can lay out his agenda. He can lay out what he wants to continue to do.

It's always going to be part of, you know, the calculation, right, to continue to prove to the American people that he can continue to do the work and deliver for the -- for him on behalf -- deliver on behalf of the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Jeff had the staff meeting today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you just give us a rundown of really what he tried to kind of cross, and is there a morale issue?

JEAN-PIERRE: It's a fair question, and I do have a couple of things I want to say. As you just said, the Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients did have an all staff call. He wanted to gather the team across the building and acknowledge what the president has said himself, right? That the last few days have been challenging.

We've been very, very clear in acknowledging that, but we have had an extraordinary record to be proud of, and we know we have more work to do, the president says that all the time.

He conveyed the importance of executing on our mission. He talked about the importance of coming together as a team and also having each other's backs.

And so, look, he also said, which I think was really important. I think that every staff wants to hear that the chief of staff's door is open and is open to hearing directly from them, any questions or any concerns.


And you know, I think that's what you do as a leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, Karine. If there are so many questions right now about whether President Biden can do this job, why are we not seeing the president out there every single day in an unscripted way without teleprompters?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you're good. You're going to see him today, certainly. And I know you're asking about the teleprompter. You're going to see him tomorrow, right, Fourth of July. He'll have an opportunity to welcome active duty military and their families and certainly their loved ones here on the South Lawn, as he does every year. And I think that's going to be important. He'll be able to engage with them and thank them directly, and you'll see him in Wisconsin, and you'll continue to see him obviously in the upcoming weeks.

Look, it is not unusual for a president to use a teleprompter. It is -- it is not unusual. That is something that presidents have done in the past.

I think what we also have to remember, and I'll keep saying this, because I think it's important to not forget that he has the strongest economic recovery in modern -- in modern history. He has led a historic midterm win when everybody was talking about a red wave, and he was been able to defy that and deliver by leading -- by being a leader, right, obviously doing the midterms as a Democratic leader, and he's going to continue to work to get lower, lower costs.

I think that matters. I think his record certainly matters. And you are going to see him, continue to see him, you know, having interviews. He's going to do ABC as you know, George Stephanopoulos, one of your colleagues, that's not scripted.

And he has done more than 40 interviews that have not been scripted. Interviews do not have a script this year alone.

So, you'll see him out there connecting with the -- engaging with the American people, and I think that's important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But again, we're now almost a week after the debate. Why doesn't the president just come here right now and answer for himself in this Briefing Room all the questions I would have?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, you asked me a couple things. You asked when is he going to be unscripted? He has been when he went to visit a diner in a couple of days ago at the Waffle House, when he met with -- met with some of the supporters in Atlanta, North Carolina, where hundreds of supporters showed up.

He certainly had an opportunity to engage on Friday, he's going to be taking some questions from one of your colleagues. I think that's going to be important. And we're going to continue to engage with all of you. We're going to certainly looking forward to doing that. He'll have a press conference next week at NATO press conference, a big boy press conference, as Justin from Bloomberg stated yesterday.

And so, we'll do that, and he's looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Karine, President Biden has always promised to tell the American people the truth. So, can you be straight with us and the American people, is the president clear eyed about what it takes to stay in the race and what it would take for him to drop out?

JEAN-PIERRE: The president is clear eyed, and he is staying in the race. I don't have anything else beyond that.

He is staying -- he is staying in the race. That is what the president has promised to do. That is what he wants to continue to work on the successes that he has had. His record is unprecedented record, and that is what the president is focused on, continuing to deliver for the American people. And he looks forward to doing that, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NATO Summit is coming up next week. Is the president frustrated that this debate over the presidential election could cast a shadow over your goals for the NATO Summit? Has he made any effort to reach out to the NATO leaders that have been coming to sort of assure them that this isn't going to derail that agenda?

JEAN-PIERRE: So look, as you stated, next week, the president is going to host the NATO Summit here in Washington, D.C. It is also the 75th year anniversary of NATO.

And let's not forget, NATO has become stronger and has gained two more countries because of this president's leadership. And all very much important -- and doing so is very much important in stopping and helping to stop Putin's aggression as Ukraine continues to fight certainly for their freedom and democracy.

Look, foreign leaders have seen the president close up. They have and, you know, and close up and personally, for the past three years, and I think that's important to know. They know who they are dealing with and how effective he has been.

I just talked about how NATO has expanded because of his leadership, how NATO is stronger because of his leadership, and I think that's important to note as well.

And so, look, you're going to see the president, you know, being a leader in front of the -- in front of these world leaders. You're going to see the president continue to bring these world leaders together.


And as it relates to what's happening currently, you heard directly from this president. He understands the criticism, he gets the criticism, he has owned up to it, but he also wants to move forward and continue to deliver on the really critical, important issues that the American people care about.

When you think about NATO, you think about foreign policy, it is important to continue our world leadership on that, being leaders and strengthening our national security as well. And that is how the president thinks about this day in -- day in and day out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to touch on the kind of questions about the outreach from the White House? Does the president intend to make any other calls on the ones that he's made today to the congressional leadership and then, you know, Representative Doggett said he reached out to the White House before he made his comments and did not hear that. He said he wanted to speak personally about his concerns.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. Look, I can't speak to the outreach that he made. I have not spoken to the Office of Leg. Affairs, so I can't speak to that.

What I can say is the president certainly has looked forward to working with Democratic leaders and congressional members over the past talking about his record, certainly his record when it comes to legislation, getting things done. He couldn't have done it without Democrats like Doggett, and he appreciates his -- obviously, his support and his partnership. I can't speak to outreach. It's not something that I've spoken to the Office of Legislative Affairs about.

And look, the president -- you want to take that? He seems like he just brought me up in a Briefing Room. I have something to say.

I would also note that I don't have any additional calls to read out or to lay out. One of the reasons that I mentioned it at the top, because I know some of you were trying to confirm, and wanted to make sure that we got to you -- got back to you, all of you about that.

And as you know, he's going to meet with Democratic governors, as I just stated at the top. So he's going to continue to do engagement. It is important against some of these leaders, he could not have delivered on this record -- on this record accomplishment that he's been able to get done without them.

And so, I'll just leave it there for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the question that we're all asking in different ways and differently is has the president and has the White House, have you sort of missed the boat in terms of responding quickly enough?

I mean, I spoke to someone today who said it was too little, too late.

JEAN-PIERRE: Quickly enough on what specifically?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In explaining and discussing what happened at the debate and reassuring donors and some people that, you know, he intends to keep running.

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, as it relates to donors or anything political like that. Obviously, that's something that the campaign should respond to.

But I would remind you that the day after in North Carolina, the president spoke to his debate performance. He did. He talked about it. He gave, you know, his thoughts. He also stated that, look, I'm not as young -- I'm not a young man. He said that. I'm not as smooth talker as I -- as I used to be. I don't walk easily as I used to be, and I don't -- I don't debate as well as I used to. He said this.

And so, he owned up to it in -- on Friday, the day after the debate that afternoon. And so, we didn't wait.

Now, as far as engagement, that is something certainly the campaign can speak to more, but the president in front of hundreds of supporters in North Carolina, talked about his debate performance, so. MJ Lee.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you very much. I just wanted to clarify one thing. I know you got a lot of questions about this issue yesterday. Has the president had any medical exams since his last annual physical in February?

JEAN-PIERRE: And we were able to talk to the -- to his doctor about that, and that is a no.

LEE: He hasn't had any kind of medical exam?


LEE: So, the White House has said no to releasing the full results of that annual. Said no to making Dr. O'Connor available for questions from us, no to releasing any other information that would shed some more light on the president's health. I guess I'm just wondering if now is not the time for full transparency, when is the time?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, I would say, MJ, to your question, that what we have released over the past three years, every year since he's been in office, has been transparent and it has been comprehensive. It has been one of the most transparent. We have been one of the most transparent administration when it comes to medical records. That is -- that is what we have been able to do.

And I would add that it is not -- it is not the norm to bring the doctor to the podium. That is not the norm. And we have owned up. This president directly has owned up to what happened at the debate last Thursday. He's talked about it multiple times and directly to supporters, directly to the American people.


And what we want to do is continue to certainly deliver on the you know, the record accomplishments, as we've been able to do.

LEE: I understand that you feel like the White House has been thorough in the medical records that you all have released, but obviously you're getting these questions in large part because of what we saw for 90 minutes on Thursday night, and people's responses to what they saw, right? A lot of people expressing shock. So, why not release more information? What would be the downside? JEAN-PIERRE: Look, what I can tell you is that we have been

transparent. We'll continue to be transparent, and that's what I can -- that's what I can share with all of you at this time.

LEE: And I do want to follow up on what Salman (ph) brought up, I think, others as well. You did get numerous questions yesterday about the president's debate performance. You didn't mention travel, the jet lag, the foreign trip, so I think you can understand why it was a little bit puzzling to hear the president mentioning that as his explanation for the first time last night.

Can you clarify whether -- when you took the podium yesterday, did you not know that that was going to be a factor?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. And I -- and I would say that is my bad. That is part of -- that is part of -- definitely part of the explanation of what had occurred. I did know that, I didn't know the -- I did, I did know that, but we were so focused. I was so focused on the call -- on the cold, and that's what I kind of leaned into and talked about.

But yes, his schedule did have something to do with it. It was the schedule and the cold, and I did, I was aware of that yesterday.

LEE: Can I just ask?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, sure.

LEE: One other broader question. The president, and I know you will remember this back in 2020, referred to himself as a transition candidate. He also said back then that he would be a bridge to the next generation of Democratic leaders. Does he still believe that?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. I mean, I think his statement stands. I mean, one of the reasons why he picked the vice president, Vice President Kamala Harris, is because she is indeed the future of the party. And he's very proud to have partnered with her and continue to partner with her in delivering an unprecedented record for the American people, and I think he's going to continue, certainly to do that. They're going to do that as partners.

Like I said, I just saw them before walking into the Briefing Room. We -- they stopped by to talk to me and my team, and they're ready to go. They're ready to continue.

LEE: So, the transition would happen in eight years, it might not be four?

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not going to get into speculation from here, but you asked me if that his remarks and statements still stand. Yes, it still does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If President Biden was fatigued during the debate because of overseas travel that was 12 days beforehand, like he said he was last night, doesn't that raise questions about his ability to effectively serve another -- a second term until he's 86? JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I think there's multiple factors here to consider. There was the travel, the travel led to a cold, and I think that matters as well. And I think we've all been there. We've all been there.

It is not unusual. And what the president did is he pushed through. He did he pushed forward and he pushed through. And that's what you saw him do.

And look, you know, you heard me say this yesterday and you heard directly from the president say this multiple times. When you get knocked down, you get back up.

Joe Biden is someone who has faced, you know, tragedies, and he's taking them on, and when he does that, he gets right back up, and that's how we see that day. That's how we see that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was his message to congressional leaders today? I mean, is he trying to instill confidence in them that -- in them, that he can run effectively for his reelection? Was that the purpose?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I'm not going to get into, certainly, private conversations he had. He shared with me those conversations were strong, and I think that's important to note. I'm not going to go into details, but the president is going to, you know, continue to have those direct conversations with leaders, with supporters. And he believes that's important to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were they united with him in the call?

JEAN-PIERRE: They continue to be united. And some of them have spoken to this. They've been very clear, have spoken, have gone on television, spoken to some of you in your reporting, and said that very clearly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thanks, Karine, can you share your details on President Biden's and Vice President Harris's lunch today? Do you know if they discussed Vice President Harris potentially taking over? Do you know if that came up today?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, I just stated that the president has -- is not dropping out. That's something that the campaign has shared. So, I'm just repeating what the campaign has shared. They regularly have lunch, and I'm not going to get into private conversation.


And I would also say that the v ice president spoke to CBS just yesterday, and you could see what she said herself, and I think that's important to know it as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to also ask, you mentioned that President Biden got the cold because of traveling. So, this cold is directly tied to him traveling, or is it he just got the cold regularly? JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you, as he traveled, then he got a cold, that's what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mentioned a few times that president's part of his record, he wants to continue his work and building on that record. I'm trying to understand how that's relevant to an assessment, self- reflection by him on whether or not he's physically capable of continuing?

JEAN-PIERRE: I think it is an assessment. I think the fact that he's able to work across the aisle, get really big bipartisan legislation done, he's been able to get us out of the pandemic, able to get the economy back on its feet. I think that shows leadership, and I think that's important, right?

He is making these decisions on behalf of the American people, and he's able to do that because of his experience, because of his wisdom. And I think that all that's all connected as well. We can't forget that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just building on Kelly Kent's (ph) question on self-reflection by the president. You've mentioned as well that he understands the stakes in the election, and if the data is showing that he may be meeting according toward electoral disaster, is there not going to be reflection?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, right now, I got to be really mindful. You're asking about a campaign. You're asking about data that's connected to the campaign. I want to be really mindful here, and it's also hypothetical, and so, I also want to be really mindful here.

What I can say is, right now and where the president is. He is continue -- he is continuing to fight for the American people, continue to build an economy that works for all, continue to create good paying jobs, expand health care. That is the president's focus. That is the president's focus.

Anything else related to the campaign, I would refer you to the campaign to speak to that directly as it relates to data. That is not something that I can -- I can't be a pundit from here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Karine. I have two questions on Bolivia.

First, former president of Bolivia, Morales and also Argentine president Javier Milei have accused President Luis Arce of staging a self-coup last week, does the administration believe any evidence if this was the case?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I want to be really mindful here, we have seen the false allegations of U.S. involvement in the events of Bolivia on June 26th. I know that's something that has come up a couple times, and so, want to make sure that it is clear that the U.S. had no involvement in that.

Look, we certainly condemn, strongly condemn, the deployment of army units in Bolivia in any attempt to subvert a constitutional order. And we are going to continue -- and I said this last week, we're going to continue, or the week before, stand by democracy and the people of Bolivia, and that is -- that is where we're going to continue to stand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the U.S. government and the Venezuelan government resuming negotiations today, I wanted to get, if you can give us like a clearer picture of what entails and how far the U.S. government is willing to go. So, two questions on that.

Would the U.S. government be willing to alleviate sanctions, and is there any plan for Maduro to sit down from power without fear of continuing legal prosecution?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, to your question about the dialog that's happening, we certainly welcome that in good faith, right? The dialog in good faith. So, we welcome that. We're clear eyed that democratic change will not be easy and requires serious commitment. So, we remain committed to supporting the will of the people of Venezuela and a path to our democratic governance via competitive and also inclusive elections.

Any specific details about that, I don't have any share -- to share about the diplomatic engagement, but we certainly welcome it in good faith, and that's what we want to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, Karine. I just also want to focus on (INAUDIBLE) the president made yesterday at the fundraiser. He said that he didn't listen to his staff. So, what kind of advice did he get? Because it gives the impression that his staff is asking him to slow down or maybe cancel some trips or have a lighter schedule?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I didn't get into the president specifically about what he meant by that, so I want to be really mindful. I don't want to get into that, but I think what the president was trying to say is that he had a schedule that was rigorous.