U.S. President Joe Biden took questions from reporters for one hour Thursday during his first formal news conference, an encounter partly intended to refute conservative critics who had predicted the oldest man ever elected U.S. president would not be up to the task.
After brief opening remarks about his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden responded to questions from 10 reporters, calling their names off a list on his lectern.
On his 65th day in office, the president found that most of the questions had to do with immigration, specifically about the government’s treatment of child migrants at the border.
On domestic issues, his remarks were generally ad-libbed, but on sensitive foreign policy matters, including those related to Afghanistan and China, he appeared to be reading from notes.
Biden made a bit of news in response to a question about the next presidential election, more than three years in the future, saying he does intend to run for reelection in 2024. He said he has “no idea,” however, if the opposition Republican Party — facing internal tumult — will still exist by then.
Replying to a question about the push by Republicans for voting restrictions, Biden said, “What I’m worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It is sick.”
The president lamented the long-standing filibuster rule in the U.S. Senate as an obstacle and said it is being misused by senators “in a gigantic way.”
Under the filibuster, 60 votes are needed to pass legislation in the Senate, which could make it difficult to pass some of Biden’s legislative agenda, including immigration reform, voting rights and possibly his infrastructure plan.
There were also some swipes by Biden at his predecessor, Donald Trump.
“I made it clear that no American president — at least one did — but no American president ever backed down from speaking out of what’s happening with the Uyghurs, what’s happening in Hong Kong,” Biden said when asked about China. “That’s who we are. The moment a president walks away from that, as the last one did, is the moment we began to lose our legitimacy around the world.”
Asked about apparent short-range ballistic missile launches by North Korea early Thursday into Asian waters, Biden said the United States is “consulting with our allies and partners, and there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly.”