In his first interview since announcing that he would seek a second term, President Biden sought to downplay concerns about his age by saying he was the most experienced person to have ever run for the presidency.
“I have acquired a hell of a lot of wisdom and know more than the vast majority of people,” Mr. Biden told the MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle in an interview that is scheduled to air on Friday night. “And I’m more experienced than anybody that’s ever run for the office. And I think I’ve proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Mr. Biden also said he was not yet prepared to invoke a clause in the 14th Amendment that would compel the federal government to continue issuing new debt should the government run out of cash and default on its loans, a date Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned this week could come as soon as June 1: “I haven’t gotten there yet,” he told Ms. Ruhle.
Republicans are demanding major spending cuts before raising the debt limit. But Mr. Biden has repeatedly said that he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, pointing out that it was raised several times under former President Donald J. Trump without issue. In his interview, he reiterated that he was willing to negotiate on federal spending — as long as it was separate from debt-ceiling negotiations.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” Mr. Biden said, repeating claims he has made before about extremists within the G.O.P. “This is a different, a different group. And I think that we have to make it clear to the American people that I am prepared to negotiate in detail with their budget. How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?”
Mr. Biden is supposed to meet with Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House next week to discuss a path forward. He will need a negotiating partner in Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who last week marshaled a bill to raise the debt ceiling while cutting spending and unraveling major elements of Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda. The legislation is considered dead on arrival, but has given Mr. McCarthy the opportunity to say he has done his part.
The president said in the interview to be aired on Friday that Mr. McCarthy was an “honest man” but that he had “sold away everything” to the far-right wing of his party to become House speaker.
“He’s agreed to things that, maybe he believes, but are just extreme,” Mr. Biden said.