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‘Bad Night,’ ‘Bad Cold,’ Trump ‘Shouting,’ Oh My! Biden Spouts More Excuses For Debate Flop

Biden speaking during a debate.
Image CreditC-SPAN/YouTube

Joe Biden and his team continue to spout a stream of excuses for his abysmal first 2024 debate performance, with the latest attempted justifications coming straight from the president himself.

During a sitdown interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Friday, Biden blamed exhaustion, a “bad night,” not listening to his “instincts in terms of preparing,” a “really bad cold” and “feeling terrible,” former President Donald Trump “l[ying] 28 times,” and Trump “shouting” and distracting him.

These excuses follow a week-long effort by the White House to defend Biden’s startlingly bad debate performance. For her part, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre cited jet lag, a cold, and old age before insisting the president is “as sharp as ever” at a press briefing Wednesday right before the long holiday weekend.

“There’s no question that international travel can be rigorous. I think the confusion is that he’s still suffering from the effects of that nearly two weeks later,” a reporter asked. “[D]o you guys usually have accommodations for him after he does a trip, that he’s gonna have jet lag for that long a period of time?”

“It’s the jet lag and also the cold, right?” Jean-Pierre insisted, “It is the two things, uh, that occurred.”

She later framed the defense of Biden as an explanation, not an excuse — yet the excuses have included not just illness and jet lag but old age, over-rehearsing, a bad venue, and his bedtime. A White House official told The Hill that the president was suffering from a cold moments after the debate began, attempting to explain Biden’s whispering voice and slow start. 

John Morgan, a key Biden fundraiser, offered a series of excuses for the president, telling Reuters last week, “It is my belief that he was over-coached, over-practiced. And I believe [senior adviser] Anita Dunn … put him in a venue that was conducive for Trump and not for him.”

Meanwhile, in the week after the debate, Jill Biden said the president is “not a young man” and that he “didn’t feel that great,” and President Biden repeated the jetlag excuse.

“I decided to travel around the world a couple of times, going through I don’t how many times zones,” the president said. “And then I came back and I nearly fell asleep on stage.”

Biden returned from Europe nearly two weeks before the June 27 debate.

According to The New York Times, Biden told Democrat governors he needs more sleep, less work, and to cut down on his events after 8 p.m. White House aides told Axios Biden functions well within a six-hour time window, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Neither these stories nor the excuses from the White House have quelled the concerns of voters — nor the panicking media and Democrat politicians, who continue to call for Biden’s replacement. The Washington Post, CNN, and even The New York Times Editorial Board published calls for Joe Biden to yield the nomination to another Democrat in light of his debate performance. Democrat Reps. Lloyd Doggett of Texas and Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, the first to call for the president to withdraw from the race, have been joined by “prominent House Democrats,” including Reps. Jerry Nadler and Joe Morelle of New York, Jim Himes of Connecticut, Mark Takano of California, and Adam Smith of Washington.

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