In Raleigh, Biden sharply criticizes Trump, calling him a threat to democracy and trying to allay concerns about age

RALEIGH – In his first major public appearance since Thursday night’s presidential debate in Atlanta, an ebullient and animated President Joe Biden addressed a deafening and enthusiastic crowd at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh on Friday.

In a speech interrupted repeatedly by applause and chants of “four more years!” and “yes, you can!” before an audience that appeared to be trying to give him a boost, the 81-year-old chief executive rattled off a long list of his administration’s accomplishments and condemned what he said were Donald Trump’s repeated lies and policy failures, and directly addressed the issue of his age and his much-criticized performance in the debates.

At one point in his speech, during which he paused several times to cough and clear his throat, Biden acknowledged that his age and that had become an issue.

“I know I’m not a young man,” he said. “I don’t walk as easily as I used to. I don’t speak as fluently as I used to,” he said. And he added, in an apparent allusion to Thursday’s widely commented performance in Atlanta: “I don’t argue as well as I used to.”

But he immediately followed this confession with a fierce condemnation of Trump, in which he said: “I know what I know – I know how to tell the truth! I can tell good from evil! And I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done. And I know, like millions of Americans, that when you fall, you get back up!”

Shortly after, he told the audience, “I believe with all my heart and soul that I can do this job.”

Listing achievements, attacking Trump

Much of the president’s speech was devoted to two issues: a recounting of what Biden said his administration had accomplished and a series of devastating attacks on Trump.

In the first category, Biden claimed credit for, among others: for the country’s rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, forceful economy, low unemployment, significant expansion of access to health care and falling costs of prescription drugs.

He said that if re-elected, he would work to restore power Roe v. Wade protecting abortion as “the law of the land,” expanding access to child care and affordable housing, defending Medicare and Social Security, attacking corporate profiteering, which he believes is a major cause of inflation, promoting education for all children, and “unlike others Dude, stand up to Putin.”


As for Trump, the president condemned his predecessor’s actions during and around the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, and his more recent statements about the possibility of “bloodshed” if he is not elected this fall, as a grave threat to democracy. “America itself is at stake,” Biden said.

He also condemned Trump’s disrespect for women and his conviction for falsifying business records, calling it a “one-man crime wave.”

Trump, Biden said, has the “morality of a street cat” and set a up-to-date record for the most lies ever told during a presidential debate.

Concerned but hopeful supporters

While the audience was spirited and supportive of Biden throughout his 22-minute speech, the fallout from Thursday’s lopsided debate was still on the minds of many participants — even if it didn’t seem to dent their support for the president.

Karla Houston, a former teacher, told Newsline: “This [the debate] unfortunately, maybe it wasn’t that surprising to me, but I wouldn’t say it would change my mind. I will vote for whoever the Democrats choose.

“That’s why I’m most concerned about the things that I’m focused on, finding someone who’s going to protect the Supreme Court, uphold voting rights, promote voting rights, not take anything away.

“His age is obviously a problem, but I think he is capable of doing his job as he has shown over the last four years and that is what I am looking for.”

Jennifer Mackey, another former public school teacher, said, “I watched the entire debate yesterday and again I was a little disappointed, but I’m not the best public speaker either.

“He is a politician for life, but he is also a public servant for life. So I believe he truly believes in taking care of America and believes in the democratic process. And I want someone who cares about the American people, not himself.

“I heard Trump talking about how great he is, while Joe Biden was talking about people, what he was going to do for the American people, and that’s why I want to vote for him.

“Joe Biden, this is his career. You know, you might snail-paced down a little as you get older, but that’s his job and he’s been doing it all his life. He knows what he’s doing. He has experience, he will listen to the people around him. So I trust him.”

Pennsylvania Responds: Gov. Shapiro Defends Biden After ‘Bad Debate’

Arthur Axelbank, a retired doctor, said: “The debate was very critical. I supported Biden and I still support him. In my opinion, the debate was basically a performance. Many people say Biden, quote, “didn’t do well.” I think that looking at the content and what he said, it is moral and true. And what his opponent says is, in my opinion, in many ways disingenuous, false and immoral.

“What I liked about Biden was that he stuck to his guns. He didn’t let himself be intimidated. I felt like he was talking about his album, which obviously was on the album. Of course. You know, I also think his opponent, Mr. Trump, is delusional. I already told you that he made things up, for example, that our country was more respected during Trump’s presidency. It’s not true. Our country is not respected by the rest of the world. And of course, Biden has a long history of working with Congress. He knows how to do it. Trump is basically saying: I’m a one-man show, trust me and I’ll do everything right. I do not trust him. And I think it’s just a terrifying thought of another Trump presidency.”

Rally for Democrats

Biden’s appearance in North Carolina is part of a broad and coordinated effort by his campaign to reverse his 2020 loss to Trump by a margin of just over 1.6%.

On Friday, two of the Democratic Party’s most prominent politicians appeared on stage before Biden: two-term Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein, the Democratic candidate for governor in the fall.

Stein spent most of his remarks reciting a list of controversial actions and statements by Republican Party candidate, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

Cooper, however, focused on criticizing Trump and thanking Biden for his administration’s achievements, including actions that he said were aimed at making the Medicaid program so financially attractive that even the state’s Republican legislative leaders had no choice but to accept it.

Thanking and praising both Cooper and Stein, Biden said that “if we win North Carolina, we win the election” and hinted that if he won, he would offer Cooper a position in his second administration.

NC News is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. If you have any questions, please contact editor Rob Schofield: [email protected]. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook AND X.

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