With the 74-year-old President Trump and 77-year-old Biden’s cognitive fitness for office very much a question in voters’ minds, plus the optics of Biden asking Black reporter Errol Barnett if he was a “junkie,” some high-profile accounts on Twitter called the interview a “disaster.”
The interview was done during an event with the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Politico reported.
You can watch the exchange in question here.
When Asked if He Would Take a Cognitive Test Akin to What Trump Claims to Have Taken, Biden Said, ‘Why the Hell Would I Take a Test?’ Then Asked Barnett, ‘Are You a Junkie?’
In the clip of an interview with CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett, which is set to air in full on Thursday, Biden was asked about the issue of cognitive testing.
“Your opponent in this election, President Trump, has made your mental state a campaign topic,” Barnett said. “When asked in June if you were tested, you said you were constantly tested, in effect, because you’re in situations like this one on the campaign trail. But please, clarify specifically, have you taken a cognitive test?”
Biden grinned, then launched into a made-to-go-viral outburst.
“No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test?” He said. “Come on, man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you’re taking a test for whether you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Are you a junkie?”
Barnett continued: “What do you say to President Trump, who brags about his test and makes your mental state an issue for voters?”
“Well, if he can’t figure out the difference between an elephant and a lion, I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about,” Biden said, referring to the most likely cognitive test, which Trump claims to have aced. “If you watch that, look, come on, man. I know you’re trying to goad me, but I mean, I’m so forward looking to have an opportunity to sit with the president or stand with the president in debates. There’s going to be plenty of time.”
Biden started to say something about Trump’s mental state, but appeared to stop himself. “And by the way, as I joke with him, you know,” he began. “I shouldn’t say it. I’m going to say something I probably shouldn’t say.”
“I’m very willing to let the American public judge my physical and mental [fitness] … and to make a judgment about who I am.”
Republicans, Including Donald Trump Jr., Seized on the Moment & Politico Correspondent Tim Alberta Called it ‘Tone-Deaf’ & ‘Amazingly Dumb’
The white presidential candidate asking the dark-skinned TV anchor, "Are you a junkie?" whatever the context or circumstance is amazingly dumb and tone-deaf, and shouldn't be ignored simply because his opponent is a brazen race-baiter at best and hardened racist at worst.
— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) August 5, 2020
Donald Trump Jr. posted the clip to Twitter and asked, “Will someone please make it stop? When does this become elder abuse?”
Breitbart, meanwhile, gleefully dubbed the interview a “Biden trainwreck.”
And activist Shaun King, a high-profile surrogate for Bernie Sanders during the 2020 Democratic Primary, lamented the exchange, given his support for Biden over Trump.
“I decided to limit my criticisms of Joe Biden to one per week,” King said. “This is my one. Keep him off television. This was a damn Level 10 disaster. From losing his cool asking this reporter, “Are you a junkie” to everything else about it. Sigh.”
Wednesday’s interview wasn’t Biden’s first gaffe or awkward moment this campaign when sitting down with a Black media personality. In May, he appeared on Charlemagne Tha God’s syndicated radio show and made the now-infamous statement, “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Biden later apologized for the “you ain’t black” remark.
Trump Has Bragged About the Results of a Cognitive Test He Claims to Have Taken & Demanded That Biden Take One As Well
President Trump over the past two months has made Biden’s mental fitness for office a centerpiece of his criticism of the former vice president, repeatedly boasting in interviews about the results of a cognitive test he claims to have taken — despite the fact that the test is not designed to be difficult.
“They say, ‘That’s amazing. How did you do that?’” Trump claimed in an interview with Chris Wallace, of the doctors who administered the test to him. “I did it because I have a good memory, because I’m cognitively there.”
Comedian Sara Cooper, who has gone massively viral with her mocking lip-syncs of Trump’s speeches and interviews, parodied Trump boasting of his cognitive prowess in a recent video.
How to person woman man camera tv pic.twitter.com/rcQC4sxmLX
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) July 24, 2020
The parody video has received more than 380,000 likes and almost 98,000 re-Tweets and comments.
Heavy reached out to the Biden campaign, as well as Barnett, for comment on the incident, but had not heard back as of Wednesday morning.