NBC’s O’Donnell Told Biden Had Cold


The debate stage turned into a battleground for President Joe Biden on Thursday evening as he faced off against former President Donald Trump. Just an hour into the rocky performance, whispers of illness began circulating. According to NBC News senior White House correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, sources claimed that President Biden was suffering from a cold. This revelation came in a post to X (formerly Twitter) at 9:50 p.m. ET.

But not everyone bought it. Critics quickly took to social media, questioning if a cold could really cause such a disjointed performance. ABC News contributor Sarah Isgur, a former Trump Department of Justice spokesperson, didn’t mince words. She suggested the Biden campaign had dropped the ball by not managing expectations beforehand, making the situation un-spinnable.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) chimed in with a jab, questioning if a cold could truly cause the mumbling and staring off into space that characterized Biden’s performance. Despite the skepticism, O’Donnell followed up with another post confirming that multiple sources had said Biden tested negative for COVID.

The Associated Press noted that Biden’s voice was raspy and that he made several verbal missteps early in the debate. The Democrat incumbent had spent a week at Camp David preparing for this crucial face-off. However, instead of calming concerns about his health and mental sharpness, Biden’s performance seemed to do the opposite.

Biden, 81, started the debate with a weak, raspy voice and frequently stumbled over his words. One of the most memorable moments came when he finished a rambling statement with, “We finally beat Medicare,” before the moderators cut him off and moved back to Trump.

As the debate wore on, Biden found more of a rhythm but struggled to effectively counter Trump’s attacks. Trump seized on Biden’s incoherent moments, accusing him of being out of touch and even a criminal. At one point, Trump mocked Biden’s response on border policy, saying, “I don’t know if he knows what he said, either.”

Nearly an hour into the debate, a Biden aide revealed that the president had a cold, explaining his hoarseness. Yet, it wasn’t just his voice causing concern. When Biden wasn’t speaking, he often stared off into the distance, giving the impression of being lost or confused. This, coupled with Trump’s aggressive style, left Biden looking frail and overwhelmed.

The debate performance intensified existing concerns about Biden’s age and capacity to lead. Deceptively edited videos had already fueled doubts, showing Biden appearing confused. This debate was meant to dispel such narratives, but many Democrats saw it as a moment of crisis.

“Democrats just committed collective suicide,” said a party strategist, pointing to Biden’s tired and babbling demeanor as reaffirming voters’ worst fears. Another Democratic consultant echoed these sentiments, suggesting that the debate had solidified the argument for nominating someone else.

Biden did have some strong moments. His retort to Trump, “Only one of us is a convicted felon, and I’m looking at him,” was a high point and tested well in internal polling. Despite the rough start, Biden’s campaign maintained that there was no mass panic.

The debate, with its new rules of muted microphones, added a different dynamic compared to the chaotic interruptions of their 2020 face-off. Yet, the night left many pondering the future of Biden’s candidacy.