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Biden says he ‘nearly fell asleep’ during debate due to hectic travel schedule

Joe Biden says he “nearly fell asleep on stage” during the first presidential debate with Donald Trump due to “going through around 100 time zones” in the weeks leading up to it.

The US president admitted to an audience at a campaign event in McLean, Virginia on Tuesday that his performance during the debate, in which he appeared shaky and forgetful, was not his best.

“I didn’t have my best night, but the fact is that you know, I wasn’t very smart,” he said, speaking at the campaign fundraiser without the aid of a teleprompter.

“I decided to travel around the world a couple times, going through around 100 time zones … before … the debate.

“Didn’t listen to my staff and came back and nearly fell asleep on stage,” he said. “That’s no excuse but it is an explanation.”

Biden traveled to France and Italy during two separate trips in the space of two weeks last month, flying overnight from the G7 summit in Bari, Italy, to appear at a fundraiser with former President Barack Obama in Los Angeles on 15 June before returning to Washington the following day.

He then spent six days at Camp David preparing for the June 27 debate.

White House officials have blamed Biden’s halting performance during the debate on a cold, but he did not mention being sick during Tuesday’s fundraiser.

Biden has faced mounting questions about his 2024 reelection bid after last week’s disastrous debate performance, with one House of Representatives fellow Democrat on Tuesday publicly calling on him to withdraw from the race.

Strategists working for the Democrats recently said they are being bombarded with texts from party donors asking them if their candidate would step forward to replace Mr Biden, who is not set to be formally named by the party as candidate until August.

On Monday his top campaign officials tried to stem panic from major financial donors during a tense phone call.

One of the questions put to the officials included: “Can the President make it through a campaign and another term?”

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll that closed on Tuesday showed that one in three Democrats think Biden should end his reelection bid following the debate, but no prominent elected Democrat does any better than Biden in a hypothetical matchup against Trump.

The two-day poll found that both Trump, 78, and Biden, 81, maintain the support of 40% of registered voters, suggesting that Biden has not lost ground since the debate.

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