Biden vows to fight Trump after shaky debate

video title, Here’s what Biden and Trump said after the high-stakes debate

  • author, Bernd Debusman Jr
  • stock, BBC News, Washington

US President Joe Biden has hit back at criticism of his ageism, telling supporters in a fiery speech that he will win re-election in November, after a poor debate performance fueled concerns about his candidacy.

“I know I’m not a young man, frankly,” he said at a rally in Battleground, North Carolina, on Friday, a day after battling his Republican rival Donald Trump in a televised showdown.

“I don’t walk as easily as I used to. I don’t debate like I used to,” he admitted. “But I know what I know, and I know how to tell the truth[and]I know how to do this job.”

Mr Biden, 81, said he hoped “with all his heart and soul” he could serve another term as a cheering crowd in Raleigh chanted “four more years”.

Meanwhile, Trump, hours later, held his own rally in Virginia, where he hailed a “huge victory” in the debate, which was watched by 48 million people on CNN and watched by millions more online. “The problem with Joe Biden is not his age,” Trump, 78, said. “It’s his talent. He’s so incompetent.”

The former president said he did not believe speculation that Mr Biden would drop out of the race, saying he was “doing better in the polls” than other Democrats, including California Governor Gavin Newsom and Vice President Kamala Harris.

While questions about Mr Biden’s age are not new, his shaky performance on the debate stage — marked by verbal lapses, a hoarse voice and some stiff answers — has sparked panic among some Democrats who have raised new questions about his candidacy.

Speaking to the BBC’s Katy Kay, Democratic officials, political operatives and people close to the president painted a picture of a party concerned about the strength of their candidate.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic former speaker, said, “It’s not great from an efficiency standpoint.” Other Democrats, such as Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s former communications director, called it a “really disappointing debate show.”

Democratic donors, who spoke anonymously to various media outlets, were more blunt about the performance being “inappropriate.” “The only way it could be more devastating is if he falls off the stage. Big donors are saying … he has to go,” a Democratic operative told the Financial Times.

video title, Name-calling and insults — key moments in the debate between Biden and Trump

But publicly, many senior Democrats and Biden allies defended his performance Friday as he tried to calm liberal jitters. Former President Barack Obama was among those rallying behind Mr Biden, tweeting that “bad debate nights will happen”.

“This election is yet another choice between someone who has fought for ordinary people all his life and someone who only cares about himself,” Mr Obama wrote, calling Mr Trump a “self-serving liar”.

Mr Biden and his campaign quickly rejected calls for him to withdraw from the candidacy.

“President Biden is the only person who has ever beaten Donald Trump. He will do it again,” said one campaign consultant. “This election is never going to be won or lost in a rally, a conversation or a debate. “

The Biden campaign said it raised $14 million from presidential fundraisers in recent days, an apparent effort to show it’s keeping momentum.

Mr Biden is expected to meet with donors on Friday and Saturday, including events in Manhattan and the wealthy Hamptons.

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