Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has faced persistent criticism throughout the election cycle that he is not mentally up to the task of serving as commander in chief.
That narrative was bolstered this week by a troubling interview during which the former vice president appeared to rely on prewritten responses and stumble through his remarks, as reported by Breitbart.
Clips from the interview, which is set to air on a South Florida NBC affiliate station this weekend, were recorded as Biden remotely participated from his home in Delaware.
“What’s the president doing?”
Anchor Jackie Nespral used the opportunity to discuss a wide range of political issues, including policies impacting Latin America.
She opened with a question regarding Obama-era relations with Cuba and whether Biden had a specific plan for dealing with Venezuela if he is elected president in November.
While Biden made it through that first portion of the interview, essentially asserting that Trump’s Cuban policy has been problematic and promising to improve it as president, the segment devolved from there.
In addressing the Venezuela issue, he appeared to be reading from prepared notes — including one phrase critics say he was supposed to keep to himself.
“I understand that Cuba along with Russia and China has contributed to the political impasse in Venezuela as well,” he said. “What’s the president doing? Look, Venezuela, topline message, is President Trump’s policy is an abject failure.”
“Hilarious and almost unimaginable”
The phrase “topline message” caught the attention of countless political operatives and speechwriters who identified it as a reminder to speakers regarding which lines to emphasize during an address.
Josh Holmes, a conservative pundit and former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), offered his take on the matter in a tweet on Wednesday.
“For those of us who write talking points for a living the principle reading the header is both completely hilarious and almost unimaginable,” he wrote.
Biden has long faced questions regarding perceived cognitive decline based on a history of gaffes and moments of apparent confusion during public appearances. Considering how infrequently he ventures out of his basement, each of his campaign missteps are sure to resonate even more loudly with undecided voters.