Was Biden's Interview With Stephanopoulos Enough To Save His Campaign?

Was Biden's Interview With Stephanopoulos Enough To Save His Campaign?

George Stephanopoulos, left, with President Joe Biden

ABC News photo

In a word, no. There he was, sitting alone, getting peppered with uncomfortable, often cringe-making questions by George Stephanopoulos, the gist of which was, because you whiffed in your debate with Trump, everybody thinks you’re out of it. But it’s not just about that debate. Hell, it’s not just on Joe Biden. It’s on us. He can’t get reelected to another four years in the White House by himself.

The Democratic Party, as per usual, is engaged in an orgy of doubt and division, this time over Biden’s fitness for office. But in his answer to one of the questions, Biden was right when he said that many of these issues were raised in 2020. People back then were saying Biden is over the hill, he’s too old, he doesn’t have the energy, he won’t appeal to young voters. Biden beat down those criticisms and beat Donald Trump by 10 million votes and a significant majority of the Electoral College.

It's true that the past isn’t predictive of the future, especially in politics. This is as true of Biden’s accomplishments in his first term as it is of the fact that he won the last time. He can’t spend the next several months reminding everyone that he “beat Big Pharma,” as he did tonight in one of his answers, or that he expanded NATO and put together the coalition of nations to support Ukraine.

The fact of the matter is, people know and appreciate what he accomplished as president. What voters want to be reassured about is that he ready for another four years. I don’t think this interview is enough to convince voters of that. He was defiant when Stephanopoulos brought up reports, so far unconfirmed, that the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate are considering the possibility of approaching Biden as a group and asking him to step aside. His defiance was appropriate. We don’t even know for a fact that they are considering this, and only four elected members of the House have said he should withdraw as a candidate. So, all of that is hypothetical at this point.

But ABC News' Stephanopoulos brought up another hypothetical, asking Biden, "If Trump is elected and everything you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January.” Biden’s answer was not defiant when it should have been. He answered, “I'll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that's what this is about.”

Misspoken word and all, it’s not what this is about. It’s not good enough for Biden, it’s not good enough for the Democratic Party, and it won’t be good enough for voters who are on the fence. Biden should have said that Trump will not be elected, because I’m going to beat him in November, and it’s going to be me up there on the Capitol steps being inaugurated.

It's not good enough for Biden to have referred to Trump twice in the interview as having lied 28 times in the debate. Trump’s voters don’t care, Democrats already know it, and it’s not something that is going to greatly influence independent voters because everyone knows by now that Trump is an inveterate liar, and he’s still ahead in most of the polls.

Democrats have six weeks until the convention to dismiss the circular firing squad and get on with the business of making that convention about beating Donald Trump, not defending Joe Biden. There are only two ways this can happen, as I see things. The first is to unify behind Joe Biden and drive on to the convention attacking Trump for his myriad flaws and crimes and lies. The second is for Joe Biden to step aside, and, effectively speaking, nominate Kamala Harris as the Democratic candidate, and for Democrats to then get behind her and drum up enthusiasm and work on turning out the vote not only for Harris, but for House and Senate candidates around the country.

Right now, this minute, after the ABC interview and going into the weekend and the rest of the campaign, Joe Biden is our candidate, and as Democrats, it is incumbent upon us to get behind him. He cannot be a candidate, even an incumbent one, alone. He needs us, every one of us until such a time that he tells us otherwise.

The way to win this election is not by blathering amongst ourselves over every story in the New York Times or Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal or Politico that says an anonymous White House source whispered this about Biden or that about the close advisers around him.

Donald Trump is the issue. We all know that, and we should start acting like it. If you want to obsessively talk about Joe Biden’s age and debate performance, get out of the way.

Attack. Stand strong. Move forward. Those are the rules to play by if you want to win this election.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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