Four Takeaways From Biden’s Post-Debate Interview

He downplayed. He denied. He dismissed.

President Biden’s first television interview since his poor debate performance last week was billed as a prime-time opportunity to reassure the American people that he still has what it takes to run for, win and hold the nation’s highest office.

But Mr. Biden, with more than a hint of hoarseness in his voice, spent much of the 22 minutes resisting a range of questions that George Stephanopoulos of ABC News had posed — about his competence, about taking a cognitive test, about his standing in the polls.

The president on Friday did not struggle to complete his thoughts the way he did at the debate. But at the same time he was not the smooth-talking senator of his youth, or even the same elder statesman whom the party entrusted four years ago to defeat former President Donald J. Trump.

Instead, it was a high-stakes interview with an 81-year-old president whose own party is increasingly doubting him yet who sounded little like a man with any doubts about himself.

Here are four takeaways:

The interview was Mr. Biden’s longest unscripted appearance in public since his faltering debate performance. The delay has had his allies on Capitol Hill and beyond confused about what was keeping the president cloistered behind closed doors — or depending upon teleprompters — for so long.

The eight-day lag has seen the first members of Congress call for him to step aside and donors demand that the party consider switching candidates. It also heightened the scrutiny of every word Mr. Biden said.

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