Biden talks pandemic, China, approval ratings in interview

Politics

U.S. President Joe Biden waves as first lady Jill Biden watches standing at the top of the steps of Air Force One before boarding at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. President Biden said during and interview broadcasted on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, that U.S. forces would defend Taiwan if China tries to invade the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing as part of its territory, adding to displays of official American support for the island democracy in the face of Chinese intimidation. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)

(NewsNation) — President Joe Biden addressed many pressing topics Sunday in a rare sit-down interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley.

The president was asked about the economy and inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s possible invasion of Taiwan, about the possibility of running for a second term and more.

First, Biden declared the pandemic was over.

“Is the pandemic over?” Pelley asked the president.

The pandemic is over,” Biden said. “We will have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one is wearing a mask and everyone seems to be in pretty good shape, so I think it’s changing.”

But then Biden was asked about the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping. There has been concern that Russia’s war in Ukraine could inspire China to invade and attack Taiwan — the self-governing island that China claims as its own.

For decades, U.S. policy has recognized Taiwan as a part of China, but Biden said that U.S. troops would come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an invasion.

“But would U.S. forces defend the island?” Pelley asked Biden.

The president responded, “Yes if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

Pelley asked him for clarification on the subject: “So, unlike Ukraine — to be clear — U.S. men and women would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”

“Yes,” Biden confirmed his answer.

The Biden administration has been firm throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that there would be no U.S. troops on the ground. On Monday morning, the White House has not officially said that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s aid.

This interview came just seven weeks before the midterm elections. The president was asked what’s next for him in the 2024 election. While he said his intentions were to run again, he remained vague in his general discussion. He said it remains to be a firm decision and that he would rather focus on getting the tasks he has at hand done first.

“It’s much too early to make that kind of decision. I’m a great respecter of fate. And so what I’m doing is I’m doing my job, we’re going to do that job and within the timeframe that makes sense,” Biden said.

Pelley reminded Biden that his approval rating in the country is “well below 50%.” He asked Biden why he felt that was.

The president responded by saying it was a challenging time in history.

“This is a really difficult time. We’re at an inflection point in the history of this country. We’re going to make decisions and we’re making decisions now that are going to determine what we’re going to look like the next 10 years from now.” Biden continued, “My point is it takes time. We were left in a very difficult situation.”

Despite the many hardships faced, Biden feels he has made progress during his presidency. He reminded Pelley that the economy is growing in a way that it hasn’t in years — with the creation of thousands of new jobs; no one wears masks anymore and more than 220 million people are now vaccinated; and he was able to pass the most extensive gun legislation in 30 years.

But the president said he isn’t done yet, and that he has “a lot more to give.”

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