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Monday, July 15, 2024

Legitimate to question Biden’s mental health – Pelosi

Democrats should ask whether the president’s debate-night fumble was a sign of a serious “condition,” the former house speaker has said

Former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that questions about President Joe Biden’s mental acuity are “legitimate,” after the 81-year-old commander-in-chief’s disastrous debate performance against former President Donald Trump.

American journalists and pundits almost unanimously declared Trump the winner of last Thursday’s CNN faceoff, in which a visibly frail Biden mixed up words, struggled to complete sentences, and left himself open to Trump’s one-liners and verbal put-downs. According to a snap poll conducted by CNN immediately after the debate, 67% of the liberal network’s viewers thought Trump emerged victorious from the 90-minute showdown.

Read more: Jill Biden: A first lady in the trenches

Biden’s performance reportedly sent shockwaves through the Democratic establishment, with some of the party’s largest donors demanding that he suspend his reelection campaign so a more lucid candidate can be found.

Speaking to MSNBC on Tuesday, Pelosi said that it is “legitimate” to raise concerns about Biden’s fitness for office.

“I think it’s a legitimate question to say: ‘Is this an episode or is this a condition?’” said Pelosi, who at 84 is three years Biden’s senior and one of the oldest members of Congress.

She added that both Biden and Trump “owe” Americans “whatever test you want to put them to, in terms of their mental acuity and their health.”

Pelosi is viewed as a close ally of Biden, and vowed last year to “work very hard to make sure that [he and Vice President Kamala Harris] are reelected.”

Read more: Biden ‘united Democrats and Republicans’ with debate performance – Musk

Only one Democrat lawmaker has explicitly called on Biden to suspend his campaign. Earlier on Tuesday, Texas Representative Lloyd Doggett released a statement urging the president to “make the painful and difficult decision to withdraw.”

However, Pelosi is not the only senior Democrat to question Biden’s health. Speaking to MSNBC immediately after Pelosi, South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn said that he would “wait on the experts in medicine to give their opinion,” and would back Harris for the presidency if Biden were to step aside.

Clyburn’s statement marked a dramatic turnaround for the former Congressional Black Caucus chairman, who immediately after Thursday’s debate blamed Biden’s poor performance on “preparation overload,” and declared that he was “sticking with him” as his preferred candidate. Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden in 2020 was seen as crucial for the former vice president winning South Carolina’s Democratic primary election, and eventually the party’s nomination.

In the fallout from the debate, multiple US pundits have claimed that Biden is being pressured by his former allies to drop out of the race. Citing an “unusually good source,” conservative journalist Tucker Carlson said on Tuesday that former President Barack Obama – Biden’s former boss – is “telling people Biden can’t win,” and urging the Democratic Party to hold an open convention to replace him. Obama has not “met personally with Biden to deliver the message” yet, Carlson wrote on X, adding that First Lady Jill Biden “is the driving force behind her husband’s reelection campaign,” and has made relations between Biden and Obama “hostile” in recent times.