© 2021
In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Biden bounces back from bad debate with energetic Raleigh rally

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a post-debate campaign rally on June 28, 2024 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Last night President Biden and Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump faced off in the first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign.
Allison Joyce
/
Getty Images
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a post-debate campaign rally on June 28, 2024 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Last night President Biden and Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump faced off in the first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Hours after a disappointing debate performance that had some Democrats openly contemplate his removal from the ticket, President Joe Biden delivered an energetic campaign speech in North Carolina that attempted to quell those fears.

Speaking to a crowd of roughly 2,000 supporters in Raleigh, Biden reiterated his belief that former President Donald Trump is bad for the country on issues like abortion and the economy.

The president highlighted false claims Trump repeatedly made during the debate and acknowledged his own poor performance that led some Democrats to panic minutes into the face off.

“I know I’m not a young man,” Biden said to cheers. “I don’t walk as easy as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to, but I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth!”

Biden added that he would not be running for a second term if he did not believe "with all my heart and soul I can do this."

"Yes you can," the crowd chanted in response.

Biden sounded raspy and confused at Thursday's 90-minute debate. His campaign said he had a cold, but the performance highlighted concerns about his age and fitness to serve another four years as commander in chief.

But a day later, still with a cough and a slightly hoarse voice, Biden campaigned as if were any other Friday on the campaign trail.

He hammered Trump as an extremist on abortion rights and a threat to the future of American democracy if elected again. Using a teleprompter and feeding off the energy of the crowd, he attacked his opponent in ways that were missing from the debate stage.

"That is what is at stake in America this election: your freedom, your democracy, America itself is at stake," he said.

Biden narrowly lost North Carolina and is investing heavily in the swing state this year as a state to flip, and voters who came to watch him speak were undeterred by the debate's under par performance.

"Last night was hard to watch," 56-year-old Simone Langely said after the rally finished. "Because you could tell that it was a little late for Joe and things just didn't go like I thought they should."

Still, she said nothing could make her support waver: "That was Joe Biden today, he hit on some very strong points and democracy is on the line."

The campaign announced Friday morning that it saw the best grassroots fundraising hours in this election cycle come immediately before and after the debate, as cable news panels, opinion columnists and other left-leaning media panned his abilities and speculated about ways to replace him as the nominee.

But Biden's message, and his speech on Friday that ended with the Tom Petty song "I Won't Back Down," is that he is not going anywhere.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Stephen Fowler
Stephen Fowler is a political reporter with NPR's Washington Desk and will be covering the 2024 election based in the South. Before joining NPR, he spent more than seven years at Georgia Public Broadcasting as its political reporter and host of the Battleground: Ballot Box podcast, which covered voting rights and legal fallout from the 2020 presidential election, the evolution of the Republican Party and other changes driving Georgia's growing prominence in American politics. His reporting has appeared everywhere from the Center for Public Integrity and the Columbia Journalism Review to the PBS NewsHour and ProPublica.