In the shadow of a looming debt ceiling deadline, President Joe Biden gave his first interview in weeks, during which he addressed both the potential for default and a number of other pressing matters, including his ability to win reelection at nearly 82 years old.
Here are a few of the top lines from his sit down with MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.
McCarthy, an honest guy
Biden declined the chance to take a personal jab at House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, choosing instead to call him an “honest man.” The two have negotiated formally just once, though McCarthy has been pushing for a followup, and Biden will meet with him and the three other main congressional leaders next week. Instead of teeing off on the speaker, Biden criticized the deal McCarthy cut with his fellow House Republicans to get a debt ceiling hike through their chamber.
“I think he’s in the position, well, he had to make a deal and that was pretty — you know, 15 votes. Fifteen votes that where he had — just about sold away everything that he — at the far, far right,” he said. “There’s the Republican Party and there’s the MAGA Republicans, and the MAGA Republicans really have put him in a position where in order to stay speaker he has to agree — he’s agreed to things that, maybe he believes, but are just extreme.”
No workarounds… yet
The president said he wasn’t ready to try a workaround for raising the debt ceiling, at least not yet. Pressed by Ruhle as to whether he would argue that the debt limit was unconstitutional (as his aides are reportedly considering), he said he had not “gotten there yet.”
“Here’s the deal, I think that — first of all, this is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different group. And I think that we have to make it clear to the American people that I am prepared to negotiate in detail with their budget,” he said. “How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?”
Age is but a number
It wasn’t all budget and debt talk. Ruhle also pressed Biden about running for a second term when he would be nearly 82 at his reelection. She noted that no one at a Fortune 500 company would consider hiring a CEO at that age. So why, she asked, would voters give him a job?
“Because I have acquired a hell of a lot of wisdom and know more than the vast majority of people,” said Biden. “And I’m more experienced than anybody that’s ever run for the office. And I think I’ve proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”