Biden tries to shift attention back to Trump after debate debacle, but some gaffes continue

Written by on July 6, 2024

(WASHINGTON) — As President Joe Biden attempts to rebound from his disastrous debate performance last week, he has spent the days since trying to steer attention back to former President Donald Trump’s record and rhetoric even while acknowledging his own shortcomings.

However, during some of those now heavily scrutinized appearances and radio interviews, he’s made gaffes similar to one in his debate performance — mistakes he’s been trying to avoid as questions have grown — even among some Democratic supporters — about his mental and physical fitness for office.

While not as visible to millions as what was described as vacant stares and lost trains of thought in the debate, they add to a list of previous incidents the White House has had to push back on: what some say was his appearing to freeze during a Juneteenth celebration and at a fundraiser with former President Barack Obama; his sometimes garbled public comments during the D-Day anniversary in France and his halting comments and appearances at the G7 summit.

In an interview with Philadelphia radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders that aired Thursday, Biden attacked Trump, claiming he “questioned the humanity of George Floyd, led the birther movement and accused the Central Park Five, they should be in jail.”

Biden spotlighted the stakes in the election and noted several times Trump’s comment that he wants to be a “dictator” on “day 1” of his second term. Trump later claimed he was joking.

“Not a joke, he means it,” Biden said.

But Biden at one point also claimed, “I’m proud to be, as I said, the first vice president, first Black woman, to serve with a Black president.”

He also said, when speaking about discrimination against Catholics, that he was “the first president [who} got elected statewide in the state of Delaware” when he apparently meant he was the first Catholic elected to statewide office.

Biden brought up Trump again later Thursday — appearing to start to refer to him as “my former colleague” during the annual White House July 4th barbecue for military families, recounting his D-Day anniversary visit to Normandy and a cemetery he says Trump reportedly said was filled with “losers” and “suckers.”

“And by the way, you know, I was in that World War I cemetery in France and — the one that my — one of our col — the former president didn’t want to go and be up there,” Biden told them before taking a beat and saying, “I probably shouldn’t even say it. At any rate, we got to just remember who the hell we are. We are the United States of America.”

Biden then stopped using a teleprompter at a lectern and made off-the-cuff remarks to audience members, walking among them using a handheld microphone.

After someone in the crowd shouted, “keep up the fight,” he responded, “You’ve got me, man,” laughing. “I’m not going anywhere. All right? All right.”

Then, in an unclear transition, he said there’s “no congestion on the highways” and spoke about his staff efforts to get him to stop talking.

“One last thing, and I used to think when I was a senator, was there were always congestion on the highways. No congestion anymore. We go on the highway, there’s no congestion. And so what? The way they get me to stop talking, they’ll say, we just shut down all the roads, Mr. President, you’re gonna lose all the votes if you don’t get in,” he said. “If you don’t get anything, I’ll be back out. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you. Thank you. You. “

ABC News’ Will McDuffie, Cheyenne Haslett, Molly Nagle and Rachel Bade contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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