CNN host pushes back on Thompson's defense of Biden debate performance 

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CNN anchor Jake Tapper on Tuesday rebuked Rep. Bennie Thompson’s (D-Miss.) defense of President Biden’s poor debate performance, arguing it was more than “just a bad debate.”

When Tapper asked how concerned he was about Biden’s standing in the wake of his disastrous debate showing, Thompson replied, “Well, just like all of us who have committed to making sure that Donald Trump is not put back in the White House, we want the best foot forward.”

“I would still lead with President Biden. He’s a good man. His policies have worked, and we’ll see how it works out,” Thompson added. “If the new strategy, taking it to the people, doing various town hall-type meetings or interviews works out, then so be it.”

Noting Democrats need to be “united,” Thompson said he “wouldn’t put everything on just one bad debate.”

Biden is facing increased concerns from within the Democratic Party following last week’s debate, during which he appeared to stumble over his words and lose his train of thought. The incumbent’s voice was raspy for a good portion of the 90-minute debate, while his delivery frequently halted and he showed difficulty stringing together his ideas.

“I’ve been in elective office a good while. Some days are just not good days. That debate was not a good day. But it’s not the end of a campaign,” Thompson said. “It’s not the end of his reelection effort. But we have to do some things to reassure the public that it was not just a one-off, but it was just a bad day.”

Tapper interjected, telling Thompson, “With all due respect, sir, it wasn’t just a bad debate. I mean, we’ve seen other incidents, and I’m not just talking about aging.”

“We all age, my parents are in their 80s. I get it. It happens if we’re lucky enough to make it to our 80s, it happens. It seems … it doesn’t seem like it’s just aging, don’t you think?” Tapper added.

Thompson said he doesn’t “think that way” and noted he has known Biden for a while.

“As people mature, things happen. But if I look at the policies, if I look at what his administration stands for, it’s what keeps America great. He’s a great leader. He’s respected by people around the world, and that has value,” the lawmaker said. “So, when I look at the two individuals running for president leading both tickets, I say Joe Biden is the person.”

Earlier in the interview, Tapper referenced a new CNN poll that found three-quarters of voters believe Democrats are more likely to win the 2024 election with a different candidate than Biden. A majority of Democrats and left-leaning independents, 56 percent, said the same, per the poll.

The same CNN poll found Vice President Harris running closer to former President Trump than Biden as her name continues to circulate as a potential replacement for the party ticket.

In the wake of calls from within his own party to step aside in the 2024 election, the president and his reelection campaign have maintained that he does not intend to drop out of the race.

Biden has already won the primaries, winning a majority of delegates, and thus he cannot be simply overthrown at the Democratic National Convention in August. This makes the decision ultimately up to him.

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