Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden pushed back against criticism from President Donald Trump that he doesn’t have the mental fitness to be the president with a two-word salvo: “Watch me.”
“Look at us both. Look at us both, what we say, what we do, what we control, what we know, what kind of shape we're in,” Biden said in a wide-ranging interview alongside his running mate, Kamala Harris, with ABC News that aired Sunday night.
Trump has slammed Biden, who at 77 would be the oldest president-elect in U.S. history, as “Sleepy Joe,” and his re-election campaign has in recent weeks ramped up attacks on Biden’s mental fitness. A Trump campaign ad released earlier this month slammed Biden as sitting “in his basement, alone, hiding, diminished.” Biden has also faced repeated questions about his age heading into a possible presidency from several other figures and media outlets.
Biden acknowledged to ABC News that "it's a legitimate question to ask anybody over 70 years old whether or not they're fit and whether they're ready” but reiterated his message to the “American people.”
“Watch me,” he said.
Responding to attacks from Trump that he’s run his presidential campaign during the pandemic from his “basement,” Biden said he was — and that he was doing so to keep people safe from COVID-19.
“Guess what. I have left my basement, and in the meantime 500 million people have watched what I've done out of my basement,” he said. “It's about being responsible.”
“We're going to follow the science, what the scientists tell us. We've been able to travel places when we've been able to do it in a way that we don't cause the congregation of large numbers of people,” Biden said.
“Look what happened with his, his events, people die, people get together, they don't wear masks, they end up getting COVID,” Biden said, referring to Trump. "They end up dying, one of his strongest supporters, the point is that this is about the science.”
Biden may have been referring to Herman Cain, who died last month from complications from COVID-19.
Cain, who had been an official surrogate for Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, had tested positive for COVID-19, just a little over a week after he had attended a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20.
While there’s no way to pinpoint exactly where he contracted the virus, Cain posted a photo of himself with others at the event, which showed him without a mask on.
More than 177,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Biden, who would be 81 when he would be re-elected to a prospective second term, said his previous comments that he sees himself as a “transition candidate” don’t mean he won’t serve just one term if elected this November.
“Absolutely,” he responded when asked if he’d leave open the possibility of serving eight years, if elected.
Harris, for her part, was asked repeatedly during the interview about how she was able to reconcile her harsh criticism over Biden’s record as a senator on race at the first Democratic primary debate in June 2019, with the fact that she was now his running mate.
“I want Joe Biden to be the next president of the United States. I believe in Joe Biden, I believe in his perspective, and frankly I think that conversation is a distraction from what we need to accomplish right now and what we need to do,” she said.