‘I don’t speak as smoothly’: Biden acknowledges halting debate but vows to stay in race

US President Joe Biden was in damage-control mode Friday as he tried to make up for a stumbling performance in the first presidential debate against Republican candidate Donald Trump on Thursday night. While Biden acknowledged criticisms of his performance, he insisted he was not dropping out of the race. His campaign director on Friday stressed that the president would participate in a second debate set for September.

Biden’s halting delivery and meandering comments, particularly early in the debate, fuelled concerns from even members of his own party that at age 81, he's not up for the task of leading the country for another four years. It created a crisis moment for Biden’s campaign and his presidency, as members of his party flirted with potential replacements and donors and supporters couldn’t contain their concern about his showing against Trump.

The US president appeared to acknowledge the criticism during a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, saying, “I don’t debate as well as I used to.” But he added, “I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”

Speaking for 18 minutes, Biden appeared far more animated than his showing the night before, and he excoriated Trump for his “lies” and campaign aimed at “revenge and retribution.”

“The choice in this election is simple,” Biden said. “Donald Trump will destroy our democracy. I will defend it.”

He added, alluding to his candidacy, “When you get knocked down, you get back up.”

"Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know," Obama said on X.

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