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In Rare Interview, Biden Insists He Is Democrats’ Best Option Against Trump

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In Rare Interview, Biden Insists He Is Democrats’ Best Option Against Trump

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In a wide-ranging Oval Office interview with The New Yorker, President Biden expressed confidence that he would win re-election in 2024, laid out his rationale for running for a second term despite questions over his age and said that he doubted former President Donald J. Trump would accept the results of the November contest.

Mr. Biden, who rarely grants interviews, faces discontent from voters in his own party and broad dissatisfaction over his leadership of the nation, polling shows.

But he suggested to Evan Osnos of The New Yorker that he was the strongest Democrat to take on Mr. Trump in November, saying he was the “only one who has ever beat him.”

“And I’ll beat him again,” he added.

Mr. Biden suggested that neither he nor voters could afford for him to sit out the election, asking a rhetorical question: “If you thought you were best positioned to beat someone who, if they won, would change the nature of America, what would you do?”

His answer seemed to represent a slight shift from December, when he was asked whether he believed any other Democrats could prevail over Mr. Trump.

Probably 50 of them,” Mr. Biden answered. “I’m not the only one who could defeat him. But I will defeat him.”

The latest New York Times/Siena College national poll showed that Mr. Biden was running behind his rival, with Mr. Trump leading him by 48 percent to 43 percent among registered voters. Mr. Biden, however, said that the news media had underestimated him before and was doing so again.

“Well, first of all, remember, in 2020, you guys told me how I wasn’t going to win? And then you told me in 2022 how it was going to be this red wave?” Mr. Biden said during the New Yorker interview, which was conducted in January and published on Monday as part of a lengthy profile. “And I told you there wasn’t going to be any red wave. And in 2023 you told me we’re going to get our ass kicked again? And we won every contested race out there.”

“In 2024, I think you’re going to see the same thing.”

One of the biggest hurdles for Mr. Biden, 81, remains voters’ perception of his age. Mr. Osnos, who has conducted several high-profile interviews with Mr. Biden over the years, wrote that the president’s voice is now “thin and clotted, and his gestures have slowed, but, in our conversation, his mind seemed unchanged.” He continued, “He never bungled a name or a date.”

Another challenge is Israel’s war in Gaza. Mr. Biden’s backing of Israel during the conflict has chipped away at his support among Arab Americans, young voters and progressives. In The New Yorker interview, the president continued to walk a tightrope on the issue, saying, “I don’t want to see any Palestinians killed,” but he also asked disaffected Democrats for patience.

“I think they have to give this just a little bit of time, understanding what would happen if they came into their state or their neighborhood and saw what happened with Hamas,” he said.

The president has been pressing for a temporary cease-fire and the release of hostages held by Hamas, but no deal has been reached yet. On Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris vocally backed “an immediate cease-fire” — an apparent escalation by the White House as pro-Gaza Democrats organize protest votes against Mr. Biden in presidential primary contests.

Mr. Biden also said he did not think that Mr. Trump, whose wide-ranging criminal cases include charges related to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, would concede the race if he loses in November.

“Losers who are losers are never graceful,” the president said. “I just think that he’ll do anything to try to win. If — and when — I win, I think he’ll contest it. No matter what the result is.”

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