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Biden Speaks Out After Giving Critical Interview Amid Campaign Chaos; Report Shows Key Democrat Seeking Senate Group To Ask Biden To Exit Race; Dr. Gupta Says, Biden Should Take Cognitive Tests And Reveal Results; Biden: Debate Was Just A "Bad Episode" Not A "Serious Condition". Aired 6-7p ET

Aired July 05, 2024 - 18:00   ET



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, President Biden spoke out just moments ago after a fiery rally in Wisconsin and after a T.V. interview that could be pivotal in salvaging his campaign. Stand by to hear what he's saying about his efforts to tamp down the post Biden campaign. debate crisis within his party.

Also breaking tonight, an influential Democratic senator reportedly is trying to form a group aimed at asking President Biden to bail out of the 2024 race. I'll get reaction from a key House Democrat, Debbie Dingell of Michigan.

And as many Americans want answers about the president's poor debate performance, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta says it's time for him to take detailed cognitive and neurological tests and then reveal the results. Dr. Gupta joins us live this hour.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today, I'm Pamela Brown and you're in The Situation Room.

And let's get right to the breaking news, new remarks by President Biden on a significant day in efforts to turn his political fortunes around.

Let's bring in CNN's Arlette Saenz in Madison, Wisconsin, where the president had an event a short while ago and sat down for a T.V. interview. Arlette, what did the president say just a little while ago?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, President Biden has completed his interview with ABC News, a critical test as he is looking to course correct following his halting debate performance last week. This interview is one that will be very closely watched as Americans are trying to gauge whether the president is up to serve in a second term. It will be one that's unscripted, one that is without teleprompters at a time when there are many facing -- presenting questions for the president about whether he has the stamina to run for a second term in office.

Now, President Biden, as he was departing Madison, Wisconsin, a short while ago, took several questions from reporters, where he once again insisted that he is not leaving this 2024 race. Take a listen.



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm completely ruling that out.

REPORTER: Mr. President, how can you present your case, that democracy is at risk, that you are the best candidate to beat Donald Trump?

BIDEN: Yes. I've beat him before and I've gotten more done than any president has.

REPORTER: Have you spoken to members of Congress? (INAUDIBLE), Mr. President?

BIDEN: No, wait. You've been wrong about everything so far. You were wrong about 2020. You were wrong about 2022. We were going to get wiped out, remember, the red wave. You were wrong about 2023. You said all the tough races, we won them all but two.

So, look, we'll see.

REPORTER: Have you spoken to members of Congress?

BIDEN: I have.

REPORTER: How many have you spoken to?

BIDEN: At least 20.

REPORTER: What are they telling you?

REPORTER: What are they telling you, sir?

BIDEN: They're telling me to stay in the race.

REPORTER: What about the people who (INAUDIBLE) gathering together and saying (INAUDIBLE) to step aside, Senator Mark Warner (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: Well, Mark Warner, among the Senate, is the only one considering that. No one else has called me to drop.


BIDEN: I hope they'll debate me. I wouldn't be surprised.

REPORTER: And if he's in, will you commit to debating him?

BIDEN: I'm committing now, absolutely. He's in or not.

REPORTER: Do you value the thoughts of members of your own party when it comes to your decision to stay in the race?

BIDEN: Sure, I do. That's what they've said. You guys saw the governors, everyone of them (INAUDIBLE). All of the governors said, stay in the race.

REPORTER: Maura Healey?

BIDEN: Maura Healey didn't say anything when I was in the room, okay?

REPORTER: Sir, will you make changes to your campaign staff at all after the debate?

BIDEN: We're adding -- look, we just added another 120 staffers. We have the most extensive staff operation in the states.

REPORTER: And are you pleased with your advisers on how they're seeing you through this moment throughout the campaign?

BIDEN: Any mistake made, my fault.

REPORTER: Are you confident you can serve another four years?

BIDEN: I'm positive.

REPORTER: President Biden, you have always talked to young people. You've (INAUDIBLE) talking to young people. Why not let someone younger take the country forward? I just have to ask. Why not let -- every CEO has a succession plan.

BIDEN: And, by the way, we do have succession plans. But why do I need a succession plan for now? And, by the way, you know, I mean -- anyway.

REPORTER: No, no, no. Go ahead.

BIDEN: Thank you.


SAENZ: Now, during that exchange with reporters, the president was specifically asked about this new Washington Post reporting that said Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat of Virginia, is trying to assemble a group of Democratic senators to ask President Biden to drop out of this race. According to this reporting, Warner has told Democratic senators that he doesn't believe Biden can remain in the race after that debate performance.

A spokesperson for Warner told The Washington Post that they would neither confirm nor deny that reporting, but added like many other people in Washington and across the country, Senator Warner believes these are critical days for the president's campaign, and he has made that clear to the White House.


And also, we heard him there on the stage in Wisconsin directly taking on his critics and also saying, they want me to leave the race, he didn't really specify who they was. Tell us more about that.

SAENZ: Yes, President Biden was defiant in his remarks here in Madison, and he talked about how there are some trying to push him out of the race. It comes as you have heard privately and publicly some top Democratic officials suggest that President Biden should step aside at this moment.

Now, the president forcefully pushed back on that idea and also really tried to reframe the debate at the questions about his age. Take a listen.


BIDEN: There's been a lot of speculation. What's Joe going to do? Is he going to stay in the race? Is he going to drop out? What's he going to do? Well, here's my answer. I am running and going to win again.

You voted for me to be your nominee, no one else. You, the votes, the voters did that. And despite, despite that some folks don't seem to care who you voted for, well, guess what, they're trying to push me out of the race. Well, let me say this clearly as I can, I'm staying in the race.

I keep seeing all those stories about I'm being too old. Let me say something. I was too old. I wasn't too old. I wasn't too old to create over 15 million new jobs, to make sure 21 million Americans are insured under the Affordable Care Act.

What do you think? You think I'm too old to restore Roe v. Wade to law of the land? You think I'm too old to ban assault weapons again, to protect Social Security and Medicare?


SAENZ: Now the president spoke for about 15 minutes here in Madison using a teleprompter throughout that speech, but then afterwards he went into an overflow room where there were more supporters, and there he did not use a teleprompter, and he said to them that he is not going to back down from this race and highlights part of the effort the campaign wants to try to make in the coming weeks, to have President Biden engaged in these more unscripted moments. That is something that many allies have encouraged Biden to do in the wake of that debate.

Now, the Biden campaign has also laid out some aggressive plans for the month of July. They plan to have President Biden, the vice president, first lady and second gentleman travel to all the battleground states by the end of the month. They are also launching a $50 million media campaign on television and digital to try to get their message out to voters to try and to show that this campaign remains on track at this time, even as there are serious doubts from within the president's own party about whether he should remain at the top of the ticket.

BROWN: All right, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much.

Let's get more on all of this with our political team, David Chalian, to start with you. I want to get your reaction to what we just heard from President Biden. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: President Biden is trying his darndest today to shut this down, this talk of him leaving the race. Obviously, that is a decision for Joe Biden to make and Joe Biden alone. There's no doubt about that. The issue is if he is determined to stay in this race and withstand the pressure, which, by the way, I think we've only seen the very beginnings of what that pressure is going to be, I think this is going to intensify for him and his team going forward, he's going to deal with the reality of what may be a lonely campaign.

Because if the Democratic Party deems he's staying in the race but it's not a winnable campaign, House and Senate Democrats are going to try to distance themselves from him, they're going to run their own races, try to separate from the ticket. This will be a different kind of campaign for him if the party he is supposed to lead comes to a conclusion that it's not a winnable race that he is in.

And so we've got a -- we're going to see in the next little bit, Pam, how the battleground maps have changed and if indeed some states that the Biden team was sort of counting as already in their blue bank of electoral votes actually are coming back online as real toss-up battleground states. This is going to get a lot more complicated for Joe Biden.

I'm not suggesting a replacement candidate will have it any necessarily easier than Joe Biden, but I'm saying if the party comes to the determination overall, this guy can't win and he stays there, it's going to be a different kind of campaign.

BROWN: Right. And, clearly, he wants to send the message today. He is defiant. He's digging in. He really believes he's going to win. He's going to beat Trump. There is no -- I mean, he was unequivocal about that. But also as I was listening to him talk, it does raise the question whether he is only hearing what he wants to hear, Ashley. He talks about, you know, the 20 members of Congress were saying stay in this race. You know, he said all the governors that you know in that meeting in the White House, they said stay in the race.


It's not exactly actually true. Not all the governor said, stay in the race. So, do you think that that could be at play here as well?

ASHLEY ETIENNE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I mean, here's what I think the president is really focused on, which we hardly ever talk about really on television, and that is he's outracing Donald Trump almost by double digits. You know, his, he's, there's, according to all the polls, his debate performance has had no effect on the down ballot races that Donald Trump, as he said today, is not like us at all. This guy wants to be a dictator on day one. He wants to terminate the Constitution. He puts retribution ahead of the interest of the American people.

And that message is actually having resonance with that 1 and 2 percent, those Nikki Haley voters, those independent voters, according to the Biden campaign internal polls, it's actually penetrating and having some resonance with them.

So, those are the metrics that President Biden is looking at right now, and if you look at them soberly, he's in a strong position.

BROWN: All right. So, Kristen, what do you think? I mean, it's not just Democratic lawmakers, some of them voters. They also have growing concerns about his candidacy. Now, look, there are plenty of voters who are standing firm behind him. We saw him there in Wisconsin. But there are some that have, you know, clearly have concerns. In our CNN poll, a huge majority, 75 percent of voters, said Democrats are better off with someone other than Joe Biden in the 2024 election. Can he really just ignore these warnings?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Ashley was correct that even though Joe Biden's performance in the debate was very poor, and that may be an understatement, the polls didn't move that much. CNN's own polling had Donald Trump ahead by six points before the debate, and it had him ahead by six points after the debate. There were other polls that showed a little bit more slippage for the president, but nevertheless, this is a race that is very locked in.

And what is helping Joe Biden the most is the fact that he's not Donald Trump, and that right now, Democratic voters do not want Donald Trump to win. I did a focus group for The New York Times back last year, where I talked to some disappointed Biden voters who said, look, I don't love him. I have worries about his age. Everyone in the focus group thought that Joe Biden would not be able to serve another four years as president. And yet at the end of that focus group, they all said that they would vote for Biden anyways, because they just could not stomach the idea of flipping to the other side.

So, Joe Biden right now is a really risky bet for the Democratic Party. If he struggles further on the way to November, they could be in big trouble. But it's also a risky bet to throw him over and pick someone else They really don't have good options at this point.

BROWN: Right. And it raises the question, right, if any of those people you're talking about are just going to stay home come Election Day. What do you think? You know, we spoke to representative Jerry Connolly, a Democrat, earlier on CNN, who, when asked if Biden could beat Trump, he said, I don't think we know that yet. And he talked about how important these next few days are.

OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Look, I think the next couple days are critical. But I think I watched the rally today when Joe Biden spoke. I think he -- we need to see more of that Joe Biden. I think I wanted to hear job numbers because that's what matters to Americans. I wanted to hear have them talk about policy because that also is mattering. That's what voters are looking at.

And, you know, Americans have a short term memory. I know that we are focused on the bad performance of the debate, but I do think that the tide will turn. This will fade at some point. For me, it's not fading fast enough because I think the sooner that the Democrats can coalesce around the candidate that they have chosen to put forward on the ticket, the better off we'll all be, because I'm in the interest of making sure that Donald Trump to the Oval Office again.

BROWN: There's also, though, you know, you're talking about, I want it to fade, you know, and for many people, right, it's going to be in the past, events are going to happen. But I think there's also the question of, what if there's another Joe Biden moment? Maybe not what we saw in that debate stage, right, where there was a lot of concern for 90 minutes, but if he can't recall a name of one of his cabinet members or something like that and how that will be looked at through a different lens.

Of course, we know he's got this big interview coming up tonight on ABC. We should be getting a clip shortly. How important is that?

CHALIAN: Well, listen, I think every one of his public outings now is being assessed in an entirely new light after the debate. There's no doubt about that. And he's keenly aware of that. Look at how he came out Monday night to attack the Supreme Court ruling and, again, make the contrast with Donald Trump. Very strong, yes, with a teleprompter in the cross hall in the White House, again, teleprompter today in the rally, but clearly focused on his energy level on keeping that up. They're aware and he is aware that every one of his moves now is judged differently and so too will this interview be tonight, Pam. There no doubt about that.

This may fade. It may not fade. The question is, in this period of time that this is happening right now, how much damage is being done to the candidacy of Joe Biden? And does that make it -- does this just present a purgatory for him right now, make it all that much more difficult for him to actually be defeating Donald Trump this fall?


That's another question that Democrats are going to have to ask themselves.

BROWN: Right. And we know that come Monday, Congress will be back, members of Congress will be back. I spoke to one Democratic strategist today who said, you know, they're at the campaign is bracing for a potential backlash. There's a lot of concern about those down ballot races if Biden stays atop the ticket. What do you say?

ETIENNE: Well, I mean, as I mentioned earlier, his performance is not affecting those down ballot races. But you're absolutely right. This next week is critically important for President Biden. He's kind of have to have a flawless presentation. But the smart thing is that the campaign is creating opportunities for him to reassure not just the Democratic Party, but the American voters as well.

But to your point about members of Congress, the president has to stop the bleeding. He can't have any more defections. This message about Senator Warner potentially rallying senators has got to be troublesome. Here's the other thing that I think -- you know, I used to be speaker communicate -- Speaker Pelosi's communications director. And I do remember. The one thing that was a thorn in my side is Politico's tracker. So, I can imagine Politico and all the reporters on the Hill are going to corner these members of Congress, pressure them on whether or not they support Joe Biden, et cetera, et cetera, and then build a tracker, and all of a sudden that mounts the pressure. No, it's going to -- and it -- you know, right now, I just heard that Hakeem Jeffries had an emergency meeting with the CBC.

So, there is some talk and some concern about whether or not they can hold Those Democrats, but that's a test, not just for the president, but for the leadership, so for Mr. Jeffries, as well as Mr. Schumer.

BROWN: All right. Thank you all so much. I appreciate it.

Just ahead, we expect the first clip from the president's critical T.V. interview to be released just minutes from now. We're standing by for that.

And CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with his take on President Biden's poor debate performance and the cognitive tests he believes the commander-in-chief should be taking.



BROWN: Well, just minutes from now, we expect to get the first clip from President Biden's new high-stakes T.V. interview.

We are joined now by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and a neurosurgeon who shared his analysis today on, calling on President Biden to undergo detailed cognitive and neurological testing following his debate performance.

So, Sanjay, we saw the president today give those energetic remarks. They were off the teleprompter, but he did speak to reporters as well after that. What stood out to you when, you know, you look at his debate performance and then you see him today?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, you know, there could be significant fluctuations day-to-day and even within the day. Sometimes people are much better as sort of earlier in the day and sort of develop more problems later on in the day. So, it's a little bit hard to read into that. And I think that that sort of gets at the heart of why testing can be so helpful. Are we looking at something that is episodic or something that is sort of reflective of a deeper underlying condition? I don't know.

I mean, look, people can have episodic changes because of all sorts of different things. How did you sleep the night before? Is your blood sugar low? Do you have a viral illness of some sort? All those things can affect how you're sort of performing minute-to-minute, hour-to- hour. But is there something deeper going on here? That's what the testing can sort of really reveal.

The things during the debate, Pamela, that I think sort of stood out to me and I think lots of other brain docs who've reached out to me were sort of the halting speech, the confusion that sort of led to sort of rambling sort of speech at different times. And also, we don't see it today, but sort of the loss of facial animation, what they call sort of a masked face. These are things that I think for a lot of brain docs would sort of say, look, it's not diagnostic of anything, but it probably warrants further testing in terms of cognition, but also in terms of movement disorders. Is there something like that going on?

BROWN: So, the president's last full medical exam was about four months ago. What did it say and why is it what you're calling for in terms of cognitive tests, how is that different from what he was evaluated for in February?

GUPTA: Sure, yes. I mean, from what we understand, and we did follow up on this with the White House, President Biden has not had any cognitive testing. And there's a wide range of cognitive testing. There could be sort of basic cognitive testing, which is more like screening tests, something that we heard about with President Trump, the MOCA exam, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. That's sort of a screening test. And I think we have an image of it, but it's all sorts of different things. Can you draw a three dimensional cube? Can you connect a series of dots? Can you draw a clock hand to a certain time, identifying animals remembering certain words, things like that. It's a screening test. It's not diagnostic, by any means, and it sort of gives people an indication if there's more to sort of probe.

But the deeper cognitive exams, they are really -- there's a lot more cognitive sort of questions, but there's also physical exam, there's history, there's talking to the patient's family, to really get a complete picture of how the person is behaving over time.

To help address the question that you're asking, he looks pretty good today, how does this compare to yesterday or how does the evening compare to the morning? That fluctuation, those fluctuations can sort of be better delineated by actually doing a detailed exam.

BROWN: Just very quick follow-up, how unusual would it be, or typical, for what we saw at the debate to just be a one-off, a onetime deal?

GUPTA: Well, I don't think anyone was surprised by many of the symptoms that I showed you and put up earlier, because I think we've seen glimpses of that. I think -- I don't know that I refer to it as a one-off as much as saying, look, are we dealing with things that are episodic or something that is more continuous, that is more of a condition? That's the question that we're trying to, I think, needs to be sort of asked and answered.


Right now, we simply don't know.

BROWN: All right. Dr Sanjay Gupta, thank you.

And coming up, we are waiting clips from President Biden's first high stakes post debate television interview. Is it enough to salvage his floundering campaign?


BROWN: And we are standing by for President Biden's first in-depth television interview since his debate against Donald Trump last week through his campaign into crisis. CNN's Brian Todd looks at how other candidates have handled make-or-break moments like this.

So, Brian, tonight will not be the first time a politician has gambled on a T.V. interview to salvage a campaign.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly not, Pamela. These interviews have been done for decades. Historians say sometimes they've been done to deal with a crisis. At other times, they've created one.


TODD (voice over): January 1992. There was no doubt how high the stakes were when Bill and Hillary Clinton sat down with CBS's 60 Minutes for an interview that aired right after the Super Bowl.


Clinton's presidential candidacy was in peril after a lounge singer named Jennifer Flowers told a tabloid about a longstanding affair she said she'd had with him. Clinton denied the affair, though he acknowledged causing pain in his marriage. But it was what Hillary Clinton said that jarred American voters.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette. I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together. And, you know, if that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Without a doubt, saved Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in that year. They didn't put to rest the question of whether or not Bill Clinton had one or multiple affairs. They just said to the American people, it doesn't matter to us, and it shouldn't matter to you.

TODD: Just how much of a gamble are these make-or-break interviews like Joe Biden's with ABC?

NAFTALI: It depends on the depth of the scandal. Joe Biden faces a crisis of confidence about his ability to lead the country over the next four years.

TODD: Some of the most momentous interviews were ones that were not planned to deal with a crisis but which still drastically changed perceptions of a politician. When she was John McCain's Republican running mate in 2008, Sarah Palin did an interview with ABC's Nightline in her home state of Alaska, and was asked what insight into Russia did the proximity of her state give her.

SARAH PALIN, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?

PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is.

TODD: Palin was skewered for it, most acutely by Tina Fey in a Saturday Night Live skit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I can see Russia from my house.

TODD: Unlike Palin, George W. Bush, in 1999, was not significantly damaged for coming across as weak on foreign policy when a reporter quizzed him on world leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you name the president of Chechnya?


TODD: Jimmy Carter, a devout Southern Baptist, shocked Americans in a 1976 interview with Playboy Magazine when he said, quote, I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times.

NAFTALI: His willingness to be honest, coldly, almost clinically honest, it would serve him well and also hurt him as a president.


TODD (on camera): Historian Tim Naftali says, sometimes these interviews have been given to deal with a crisis that's overblown, one which the media and others might exaggerate, but that American voters don't make a big deal out of. He says the Biden interview is not one of those moments. This crisis, he says, is genuine. Pamela?

BROWN: All right. Brian Todd, thanks so much.

Just ahead, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell joins us in The Situation Room. I'm going to get her reaction to President Biden's defiant vow to stay in the race.



BROWN: Breaking news, you're going to -- we're going to bring you President Biden's first high-stakes television interview following his debate performance in just a moment, a clip from that. He talked about his debate performance and a lot more. He said his debate performance was a bad episode and not a condition.

Let's get more on this from our political experts. Jeff Zeleny, first to you.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, look President Biden struck a defiant tone in Madison, Wisconsin, and it sounds like in the clip that we just heard on ABC News at the beginning, it's a similar tone. He's taking responsibility in some degree for the preparation that he was given. He says he was exhausted and he didn't follow his own instincts in preparing.

But also just in this first clip, and we'll see more of it later this evening some things that we still sort of need to hear more from. He's talking about his polling numbers in the middle of talking about this debate, and also oddly said he wasn't sure if he watched the debate afterward or not. So, that did not strike me as something that was all that clear.

But, again, he's staying in the race, same defiant tone, at least the beginning that we heard earlier today in Madison.

BROWN: What did he make of that, David, that he said he didn't watch the debate?

CHALIAN: I mean, I want to see the full interview and see if they revisit that topic, but that would be very odd to me that he has not given the swirl around his debate performance, given his own self- assessment that this is entirely on him, entirely his fault. He told George Stephanopoulos, well, wouldn't you want to look at sort of what that was so that you know how to avoid it again in the future? We'll see, I guess, more in the interview.

I also thought, you know, in that piece, we just heard that Stephanopoulos sort of put Nancy Pelosi's question to him. Was this a bad episode or is this a serious condition? And he says, it's just a bad episode. Also, I don't recall learning that there was like a COVID test or other infections -- perhaps testing of other infections that he said the doctors did perform on him.

That's very different than what Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, had been saying from the podium earlier this week. Clearly, she was not informed and didn't know that he had seen his doctor. And then the White House did say he had a check-in with his doctor, but not a formal physical exam. But now he's saying --

BROWN: That was after the debate.

CHALIAN: After the debate, the checkup, but now he's saying --

BROWN: Before the debate, he was checked out by the doctor.

CHALIAN: Yes, and took these tests because when --

ZELENY: He said the word, infection.

CHALIAN: Word, infection, which he said he didn't have, that they came back negative. But he was trying to explain to George in the interview that cause George was saying, but you were back for 11 days. Why are you jet lagged for 11 days and still exhausted? And he said, well, I had this cold, I was sick, too. So, that, that's intriguing that the doctors were brought in at that pre-debate period after he got back from his foreign travel.

ZELENY: And sums up saying, I just had a bad night. But the bad episode about what former Speaker Pelosi said, who, of course, you worked for, Ashley.


I mean, that was probably the most intriguing thing of the week, that she is the one who framed that question so succinctly.

ETIENNE: Yes. And I'm glad that the president was posed the question that he was able to answer it forcefully. And I think that's supported by what we saw on Friday, the speech in North Carolina, what we saw today, he was strong, even in his stand-up questions with a reporter. So, I'm glad he was able to address that.

But, you know, the one thing I find very interesting is, clearly, the president is very focused on driving his message. You know, as a communicator, that's the one thing I'm listening for. Are you pivoting back to your message? Are you using each one of these opportunities to get yourself out of a bind and put the attention back on your opponent?

So, the fact that he leans into the number of lies that Donald Trump said during the debate, this is a common thread theme that now we're starting to hear from the president that the campaign internally knows is having resonance with, again, those 1 to 2 percent of voters. So, to have him continue to lean into this idea that Trump is a liar. And can you trust him? That was the questions about that swirled around Bill Clinton at one point. Can you trust the president's word? I don't want a liar. I don't even want to know a liar, let alone have a liar run my country. And to have him point out the fact that the president lied about COVID, told people to take bleach.

BROWN: Okay. I'm going to interrupt you, because we now have the clip we can play here of President Biden speaking on ABC.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Let's start with the debate. You and your team said, have said you had a bad night, but your friend, Nancy Pelosi, actually framed the question that I think is on the minds of millions of Americans. Was this a bad episode or the sign of a more serious condition?

BIDEN: It's a bad episode, no indication of any serious condition. I was exhausted. I didn't listen to my instincts in terms of preparing and it was a bad night.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you say you were exhausted and I know you've said that before as well, but you came -- and you did have a tough month, but you came home from Europe about 11 or 12 days before the debate. It's been six days in Camp David. Why wasn't that enough rest time enough recovery time? BIDEN: Because I was sick. I was feeling terrible. Matter of fact, the docs with me I asked him, they did a COVID test, trying to figure out what's wrong. They did a test to see whether or not I had some infection, you know, virus. I didn't. I just had a really bad cold.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And did you ever watch the debate afterwards?

BIDEN: I don't think I did, no.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what I want to get at is, what were you experiencing as you were going through the debate? Did you know how badly it was going?

BIDEN: Yes. Look, the whole way I prepared, nobody's fault, mine, nobody's fault but mine. I prepared what I usually would do, sitting down, as I did come back with foreign leaders or the National Security Council, for explicit detail. And I realized about partway through that, you know, although I get quoted, The New York Times had me down at ten points before the debate, nine now or whatever the hell it is, the fact of the matter is that when I looked at is that he also lied 28 times. I couldn't -- I mean, the way the debate ran, not my fault, no one else's fault, no one else's fault.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it seemed like you were having trouble from the first question in, even before he spoke.

BIDEN: Well, I just had a bad night.


BROWN: All right. So there we heard it for ourselves, President Biden, the first clip of him speaking to George Stephanopoulos on ABC. What jumps out to you as you watch this? Not just what he said, but how he appears.

CHALIAN: Well, we know he taped this right after we saw him do that rally in Wisconsin. He appears sort of comfortable and I think sort of the Joe Biden that we've gotten accustomed to seeing is certainly in that clip didn't resemble what we saw on the debate stage in Atlanta last week. He didn't seem in these moments to have some sort of meltdown and just like not able to focus or answer the question.

Again, we're going to see a complete interview tonight, I'm sure, and we'll see the totality of it. But in that clip, he seems to be engaged in conversation, soft spoken, he's a soft spoken man these days. But I am intrigued by the content. I am intrigued by this notion that he doesn't think he watched the debate.

BROWN: Not even like no or yes, I don't think so.

ZELENY: And I think that gives us a lot of insight because the White House has been really rushing to compare this debate to Barack Obama's first debate in 2012, saying, you know, incumbent presidents sometimes have bad debates. Well, what Obama's advisers did, they made him watch that debate. He saw how bad he was, so he sort of rebooted himself. So, the question is, if he didn't watch it, it sort of goes to show how his advisers are treating him, I think, and how they're taking this.

But one other thing, he said, it was my fault, I prepared for how I usually do, with details, almost as though he was not expecting that Donald Trump on stage.


He has debated him twice in 2020. So I thought that was very interesting and odd as though he was prepared to come to debate someone with facts and figures as opposed to the Donald Trump who see on the campaign trail. So that also struck me as sort of odd.

But he took ownership. He said it's my fault. It's my fault. But --


BROWN: No, he did. I mean, he wanted to make clear, he said that the buck stops with me. It was my fault, but it does raise the question. He is so defiant came out today, said, I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to be Donald Trump, you so defiant, he is now admitting in this interview that he doesn't -- doesn't think he watched the debate back.

Does he know how bad it was? Is he fully -- does he fully grasp how bad it was and this moment that he's in right now?

ETIENNE: No, I think he's admitted that it was a poor performance, I mean --

BROWN: Right, but as bad as it was?

ETIENNE: I think yes, I think he said it over and over again. I mean, he hasn't been shy about it. He's made light -- just today, he made light of owned his age, while owning his accomplishments, which I thought was actually brilliant.

And so he's owned his age and the fact that he, as you said, I don't debate as well as I used to. I don't move as fast as I used to. So, I don't think he's making any apologies about his performance but what I think is interesting is if we get back to sort of how the campaign has strategically created these opportunities for the president to look as strong as he did in the rally today, and this interview with George Stephanopoulos is going to be key for him because it starts again, prove the point that it was episodic and not a condition.

BROWN: All right. We have to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



BROWN: Breaking news, we just got our first clip of President Biden's high-stakes interview with ABC News. The president brushing off his debate against Trump as a bad episode, not a sign of a more serious condition.

Joining us now, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. All right. So, you heard that clip, the first clip that we're getting

of President Biden speaking at ABC. What do you think? Was that enough to assure Democrats that his debate performance was a one-off?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): OK, this I'm going to say to you, I heard a clip. I've not seen the whole 15-minute interview. I'm not going to comment. Until I watched the whole 15-minute interview, but I am going to continue to say to everyone, one interviewed doesn't change the American people's opinion. It's not going to what we need to see, and there's only one person that can do it, is Joe Biden needs to go out there, show people he's got the stamina, the vision, he's doing great.

And we've got to get back to talking about with his grace is really about in November, the economy, democracy, and those issues. And only one person can do that right now. And that is President Joe Biden.

So, hopefully, he does strong job tonight. That clip certainly was stronger than a week ago, and let's see the whole 15-minute interview before we all start taking clip, and once again, making comments.

BROWN: Well, he did say though in that interview as well that he's not sure or he didn't think he had watched the debate afterwards. Is that a mistake that he didn't go back?

DINGELL: I don't know what -- was a cut clip? Was he -- did he go back to it? You and I don't -- I haven't --

BROWN: That is true. We don't know if he went back to it to pin him down, but what we do is he said, I don't think so. No.

DINGELL: And, by the way, either -- look, I don't watch the clip after I'm in like with you today because I don't want to know how well or how badly I did. He probably should at some point go back and look at it, so I know when President Obama didn't do well, they had them look at it.

So it's been a week. You got to admit, it's been a week.

BROWN: All right. Let me just ask you. It has been a week and the fallout continues because we're just going to news that Congressman Moulton, a Democrat, is officially now calling for Biden to step aside, and this statement just coming in to WBUR. He says: President Biden has done enormous service to our country, but now is the time for him to follow, and one of our Founding Father George Washington's footsteps and step aside to let new leaders rise up and run against Donald Trump.

Your reaction?

DINGELL: Here's my reaction: Congress is a representative body and it should reflect the people in this country and I have been out in my district and I have heard every opinion, have been yelled at by everybody who has a different opinion. So, some of my colleagues think he should step aside. Today, I've got screamed at and reminded of how many millions of people had voted to nominate Joe Biden, that small people could not take away from the will of the people. This is a very complicated issue and that's people, and all of -- a

whole lot of people can have different opinions, but the one thing I do know is Joe Biden has to get out there and show the American people he's got the stamina and can do this job and change this dialogue. He doesn't have a lot of time to do it. He has to do it now.

So some of my colleagues think he should step aside, some of my colleagues are dead set (INAUDIBLE). And I want to see how he does tonight, and I want to see what he does this next few days because I can't (INAUDIBLE) and get back to talking about Donald Trump and what he will do in this country. And the SCOTUS decision, the Supreme Court decision this week made it even more serious.

BROWN: All right. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thank you so much.

I'll be back.

DINGELL: Thank you.



BROWN: Right now I want to get more reaction to President Biden answering questions about his debate performance during a high-stakes interview with ABC News.

Let's bring back CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, the president says this was, quote, a bad episode, but, quote, no indication of any serious condition. And he said he was feeling terrible and that doctors did a test to see if he had the infection or a virus, but he said he just had a really bad cold.

Your reaction?


BROWN: All right. We're having problems with connecting with Sanjay. Yes. We're just wanting to ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta as we are. I'm trying to reconnect with him about this interview that president Biden did there on ABC where he addressed the concerns about his mental acuity after the debate where he said it was just an episode, not a condition in response to a question about Nancy Pelosi, you know, asking the question that on a lot of Americans' minds, was this something more than just a one-off bad debate night?

He said, basically, it was. It was just an episode. He had a bad cold. He said that even though he had 11 days to rest up before the debate, that he really didn't rest up the way he should have because he had this cold. He even said and this was actually new, that he was tested by doctors, that they tested him for COVID, for a virus, for an infection, and that that'll take turned up negative. And that in fact it was just a bad cold.

It's interesting because the White House had said, for the press secretary that he had not had any physical mental exam since February since he was checked out back then. So, now, we're going to new information from President Biden. He also said, when he was asked if he had seen that -- went back to watch the debate. I don't think so. No.

All right. That's the latest on that front.


"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.