Biden says he’ll avoid working events after 8pm to get more sleep following debate debacle

World News

President Joe Biden in a call with Democratic governors Wednesday said he needs more sleep and will avoid work events after 8 p.m., according to multiple reports—building on his explanations for his disastrous debate performance last week, but stopping short of saying he’s unable to fulfill his duties as president.
US President Joe Biden looks down as he participates in the first presidential debate of the 2024 election. Image: Getty
Key Takeaways
  • Biden told the governors he needs to sleep more and work less, The New York Times first reported, citing unnamed sources who participated in the meeting or were briefed on it.
  • The president—who has refused calls to step aside in the race—jokingly told the approximately 20 governors who attended the White House meeting either virtually or in person “it’s just my brain” when Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, a physician, asked him questions about his health, according to the report.
  • Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon confirmed the comment in a statement to The Times, and said “he was clearly making a joke.”
  • The president has sought to make light of his debate performance, which took place during a 90-minute CNN special starting at 9 p.m. last Thursday, telling donors Tuesday he “almost fell asleep” on stage, while also blaming his travel schedule and attributing his hoarse voice during the debate to a sore throat.
  • During his first post-debate interview that aired Thursday morning, Biden chuckled when Philadelphia-based WURD Radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders asked him whether Americans should be concerned following his debate performance: “no,” the president said, adding “I had a bad debate, but 90 minutes does not erase what I’ve done in three-and-a-half years.”
  • Biden mentioned his travel schedule again in the call with the governors, according to The Times, referring to his two trips to Europe and stop in California in the three weeks leading up to the debate, before he headed to Camp David to prep for six days.
  • Multiple governors expressed concern that there was no extensive discussion in the call about Biden stepping down in the race, The Times reported.
Crucial Quote

“I screwed up. I made a mistake,” Biden told Wisconsin radio host Earl Ingram of Civic Media in an interview aired Thursday. “But I learned from my father, when you get knocked down, just get back up . . . we’re gonna win this election.”


White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told multiple outlets on Thursday Biden saw a doctor several days after the debate “to check on his cold and was recovering well,” contradicting White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s statement a day earlier that Biden hadn’t had any kind of medical exam since February. The reverse course came after Politico reported earlier Thursday Biden told the governors he saw a doctor after the debate.

Key Background

Biden spoke with the governors Wednesday amid public calls from some, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, along with Democratic leaders in Congress, that he needed to do more to reassure the party and the public he’s fit for the job.

Calls have grown throughout the week for Biden to step aside in the race, with the second sitting Democrat in Congress coming forward Wednesday to urge Biden to end his campaign, but he instead appears to be digging in, reportedly telling staff in a call Wednesday he’s “in this race to the end.”

In private, Biden has begun to acknowledge that the holiday weekend is a crucial test for the viability of his campaign, The Times and CNN reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed ally who has spoken with the president and said Biden knows he might have to step aside if he can’t quickly recover from the debate backlash.

What To Watch For

Biden is set to give his first extensive televised interview since the debate to ABC News on Friday.

This article was first published on and all figures are in USD.

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