In Raleigh, Biden blasts Trump, tries to quell age concerns (2024)

This story originally published online at NC Newsline.

In his first major public appearance after Thursday night’s presidential debate in Atlanta, a fiery and animated President Joe Biden addressed a loud and enthusiastic crowd on Friday at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.

In a speech interrupted repeatedly by applause and chants of “four more years!” and “yes you can!” from an audience that seemed almost as if it was trying to provide him with an infusion of energy, the 81-year-old chief executive ticked off a long list of his administration’s accomplishments, blasted what he said were Donald Trump’s repeated lies and policy failures, and directly addressed the issue of his age and his much-criticized debate performance.

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

“I know I’m not a young man,” said. “I don’t walk as easily as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to,” he said. And, he added, in an obvious allusion to Thursday’s widely panned performance in Atlanta—“I don’t debate as well as I used to.”

But he immediately followed the admission with a spirited denunciation of Trump in which he said, “I know what I do know—I know how to tell the truth! I know right from wrong! And I know how to this job. I know how to get things done. And I know like millions of Americans know, when you get knocked down, you get back up!”

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

Listing accomplishments, attacking Trump

Most of the president’s speech was devoted to two things: a recitation of what Biden said were the accomplishments of his administration and series of damning attacks on Trump.

In the former category, Biden took credit for, among other things, the nation’s rapid recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong economy, low unemployment, a large expansion healthcare access, and a reduction in the cost of prescription drugs.

If reelected, he said, he would work to restoreRoe v. Wadeabortion protections as “the law of the land,” expand access to childcare and affordable housing, defend Medicare and Social Security, attack corporate profiteering that he said has been a chief cause of inflation, promote education for all children and, “unlike the other guy, stand up to Putin.”

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

He also blasted what he described as Trump’s lack of respect for women and his criminal conviction for falsifying business records, calling him a “one man crime wave.”

Trump, Biden said, has “the morals of an alley cat,” and had set a new record for the most lies ever uttered in a presidential debate.

Concerned but hopeful supporters

While the audience was boisterous and supportive throughout Biden’s 22-minute speech, the impact of Thursday’s uneven debate performance was still on the minds of many in attendance—even if did not seem to lessen their support for the president.

Karla Houston, a former teacher told Newsline, “It [the debate] was unfortunately maybe not all that surprising for me, but I wouldn’t say it’s going to change a decision. I’m gonna vote whoever the Democrats choose.

“So, my biggest concerns are things that I’m focused on are getting somebody who’s going to protect the Supreme Court, keep voting rights, keeping them pushed forward, not taking anything away.

“His age is obviously an issue, but I think he is able to do his job as he’s shown in the last four years and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Jennifer Mackey, another former public school teacher, said “So I watched the whole debate last night and again, I was a little disappointed, but I also am not the best public speaker.

“He is a lifetime politician, but he’s a lifetime civil servant. So, I believe he truly believes in taking care of America, and he believes in the democratic process. And I do want someone who cares about the American people rather than themselves.

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

“Joe Biden, this is his career. You know, you might slow down a little bit as you get older, but this is his this has been his lifelong job. He knows what he’s doing. He has experience he will listen to the people around him. So, I have I have faith in him.”

Arthur Axelbank, retired physician, said, “The debate was very important. I went in supporting Biden and I still support Biden. In my opinion, the debate was basically a performance. And many people say that Biden, quote, ‘did not perform well.’ I think that I look at the content, and the things he said are moral and true. And the things his opponent says are delusional and false and immoral in many ways, in my opinion.

“What I liked about Biden is he stuck to his guns. He didn’t get intimidated. I felt like he spoke about his record and that was goes without saying it’s on the record. Of course. You know, I think also that that his opponent, Mr. Trump, is delusional. I already said he just had makes things up, for example, saying that our country was more respected when in the Trump presidency. That’s not true. Our country is not respected by the rest of the world. And that, of course, Biden has a lot of history with working with the Congress. He knows how to do that. Trump basically says, I’m a one-man show, trust me and I’ll do everything correctly. I don’t trust him. And I think it’s just really a frightening thought of another Trump presidency.”

A rally for Democrats

Biden’s appearance in North Carolina is part of a large and concerted effort by his campaign to reverse his narrow defeat in the state to Trump in 2020 by just over 1.6 percent.

Biden was preceded to the stage on Friday by the state’s two most prominent Democratic politicians—two-term Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein, the Democratic nominee for governor in the fall.

Stein devoted most of his remarks to reciting the list of controversial actions and statements of Republican nominee, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

Cooper, however, focused on blasting Trump and thanking Biden for his administration’s accomplishments, including what he said were its efforts to make Medicaid so financially attractive that even the state’s Republican legislative leaders had no choice but to accept it.

In thanking and praising both Cooper and Stein, Biden said that “if we win North Carolina, we win the election,” and intimated that if he wins, he would be offering Cooper a position in his second administration.

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In Raleigh, Biden blasts Trump, tries to quell age concerns (2024)
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