Biden aides prepared questions ahead of his radio interviews

The questions posed to President Biden by two radio interviewers this week were provided to the hosts in advance by members of Biden’s team, one of the hosts said Saturday morning on CNN.

Andrea Lawful-Sanders, the host of “The Source” on WURD in Philadelphia, said Biden officials gave her a list of eight questions ahead of Wednesday’s interview.

“The questions were sent to me for approval; I approved them,” she told CNN’s “First of All” host Victor Blackwell. Asked if the White House had sent the questions to her in advance, she said it had.

“I was asked multiple questions — eight in total,” she said. “And the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved.”

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for the Biden campaign, said it was actually campaign staff, not White House officials, who sent the list of questions. She said it’s “not unusual” for the campaign to share preferred topics, but added that campaign officials “do not condition interviews on the interviewer accepting these questions.”

“Hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners,” she said. “In addition to these interviews, the president also participated in a press conference and an interview with ABC yesterday. Americans have had multiple opportunities to see him unscripted since the debate.”

Biden’s campaign had scheduled interviews with the hosts of two radio shows with large black followings, part of a broader effort to convince Americans that he is mentally fit after his disastrous performance at the Atlanta debate, which raised concerns among many Democrats.

In a later interview with ABC News on Friday, the president appeared to point to his exchanges with the black radio hosts as evidence that he could handle the rigor of the campaign, citing what he called “10 major events in a row” he had attended since the debate.

No one on the president’s reelection campaign or in the White House disclosed in advance that the questions had been given to the Black hosts, a practice widely condemned by journalists as inappropriate, especially when covering a politician. And yet, despite knowing the questions in advance, Mr. Biden still stumbled over some of them.

In the interview with Ms. Lawful-Sanders, Mr. Biden stumbled over his words, at one point saying he was proud to be “the first Black woman to serve with a Black president.”

During his appearance on “The Earl Ingram Show” on WMCS in Milwaukee, Biden responded to a question about why voting matters with a halting and sometimes confusing answer.

“That’s where we always — we gave Donald Trump executive authority to operate a system — and it was just never considered by our founders because of the people that he appointed to the court,” he said, appearing to stutter several times, a condition he’s struggled with since he was a child. “It’s just presidential immunity. He can say I did this in my executive capacity, it may have been wrong, but I did it. But that holds up — because I — and this is the same guy who says he wants revenge.”

Mr Blackwell, who interviewed the two radio hosts on Saturday morning, appeared surprised by the answers to the pre-approved questions.

He had asked Ms. Lawful-Sanders about her four questions because he had noticed that they were nearly identical to the four Mr. Ingram had asked in his interview with Mr. Biden the same day.

Mr Ingram, who was on Mr Blackwell’s show with Ms Lawful-Sanders, did not dispute her description of how the questions were selected.

“The reason I ask this is not to criticize either of you,” Mr. Blackwell told the two hosts. “It’s just that if the White House is trying to prove the president’s energy and vitality and acumen, I don’t know how they do it by asking questions first, before the interviews, so the president knows what’s coming.”

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