The TV reporter and the US President are walking through the Auto Show in Detroit when the reporter, Scott Pelley from CBS, has this question: This is the first Auto Show in three years - "is the pandemic over?" Joe Biden answers this: "The pandemic is over," he says. You still have a problem with Covid, there is a lot to do, but the pandemic is over.
A few weeks before the US midterm elections, this not only provided relief for the audience watching the "60 Minutes" show on Sunday, but above all amazement. Corona done? Well, attention to the disease is noticeably decreasing. Look, nobody wears masks, says Biden to the interviewer who accompanies him through the fair. "Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape, so I think that's changing."
The fact of the matter is that around 400 people still succumb to the disease every day in the US alone, though not thousands every day. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the number of deaths is at its lowest level since spring 2020 and that the end of the pandemic is "in sight".
Biden had asked Congress for another billion dollars to prepare for a possible fall wave. He himself spent more than two weeks in isolation in the White House, his wife Jill caught the virus this August. Later in the conversation with CBS, Biden recalled that the US had lost a million people to Covid, "a million!" When he was elected and took office, only two million Americans were vaccinated, now there are 220 million.
Biden's staff may have flinched on occasion
The interview, which was broadcast during prime time, had other surprises in store. Biden's staff in the White House may have winced occasionally, spontaneous statements by the boss do not always correspond to the script. In May, for example, he announced that Russia's President Vladimir Putin could not stay in power, which he later cashed in on.
This time it's about Russia. Putin, a war criminal? "It's barbaric what he's doing." The energy crisis that Putin is toying with? Biden promises that Putin will not make it, at least US gasoline prices are falling again, and inflation is no longer rising. How far will Washington support Ukraine (US sends arms, information and money to Kyiv)? As long as necessary, Biden replies. What if Putin, cornered, uses chemical weapons or tactical nuclear weapons? Biden: "Don't. Don't. Don't." Do not do it.
After Putin, you're straight to China, so Biden's watchdogs could have gotten nervous again. Pelley asks what Xi Jinping needs to know about the commitment to Taiwan. It is as signed long ago: There is a one China policy and Taiwan makes its own judgments about its independence. Would the US, meaning American men and women, defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion? "Yes."
Yes? The US policy towards China has not changed, CBS then quoted the White House as saying. In early September, the US State Department announced a $1.1 billion arms package, which Beijing furiously commented on. Earlier, Democratic Congressional Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew to Taipei, and the Chinese military began huge maneuvers.
On "60 Minutes" on CBS, Joe Biden (just ahead of his trip to the Queen's funeral) is also asked if he is running in the 2024 presidential election. Biden said it was too early. There is intention. "But is that a firm decision that I'm going to run again?" You'll see.
the Midterms are on November 8th, for Biden and his Democrats it is about the House of Representatives and the Senate. The president is currently succeeding in some things, including an infrastructure program, but he is not popular across the board. And on November 20 he will be 80, Biden has held top positions for 50 years. What keeps him in the arena? Biden speaks of the death of his first wife and two children and what his late son Beau wanted. In the Oval Office, he pulls a rosary out of his pocket and shows him a cartoon that his father framed for him as a reaction to the blows of fate. "Get up, I have much more to give."
Is he fit enough? There is always speculation about his age. "Pretty good shape, huh?" countered Biden. "Look at me." In Detroit he gets into an electric car. Whoever wants to go to Washington should jump in.