Biden camp dodges answering if president plans to use performance-enhancing drugs before debate

President Biden’s campaign repeatedly dodged answering a point-blank question about whether Biden plans to take any drugs to enhance his performance during the CNN Presidential Debate on Thursday evening. 

Biden’s opponent at the debate, former President Trump, has led a rising chorus — that has come to include lawmakers — demanding that Biden take a drug test before the showdown. Those advocating a screening suggest that Biden may be motivated by a desire to quell mounting concerns about his mental acuity. 

Given the controversy, Fox News Digital reached out to the Biden campaign, White House and Trump campaign asking if the respective candidates have any plans to use performance-enhancing drugs for the debate.

The Biden campaign twice avoided a direct answer to the question.

‘Donald Trump is so scared of being held accountable for his toxic agenda of attacking reproductive freedom and cutting Social Security that he and his allies are resorting to desperate, obviously false lies,’ Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt told Fox News Digital on Wednesday evening. 

When asked in a follow-up email for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, Hitt said her original statement answered the question.

‘The accusation from Trump on drugs is a ‘desperate, obviously false lie,” Hitt added. 

The White House did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

In contrast, the Trump campaign issued a direct response when asked if Trump planned to take any performance-enhancing drugs for the debate.

‘Absolutely not,’ Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt told Fox News Digital. 

She added, ‘President Trump has naturally elite stamina and doesn’t need performance-enhancing drugs, unlike Joe Biden, who many are saying will be drugged up for the debate like he was at the State of the Union. President Trump has repeatedly asked Joe Biden to participate in drug testing. What does Team Biden have to hide?’

Despite the accusations of his political adversaries, there is no clear evidence that Biden has used any performance-enhancing drug or other similar substance during his tenure in the Oval Office.

Still, Trump has challenged Biden to take a drug test before the Thursday night debate, previously suggesting that Biden uses substances to enhance his cognitive functioning. Trump, when issuing his challenge to Biden, volunteered to also take a drug test.

Former White House physician Ronny Jackson, who is now a Republican congressman representing Texas, has also called on Biden to take a pre-debate drug test. Jackson cited the dozens of lawmakers and administration officials who described Biden as losing his mental edge in interviews for a recent bombshell Wall Street Journal report.  

‘This is a Biden-specific concern based on the unexplained change in his demeanor during the [State of the Union],’ Jackson previously told Fox News Digital. ‘President Trump has been the same his entire life, and there have definitely been no concerning changes. President Trump has also previously offered to take one if Biden does.’ 

In response to the Wall Street Journal report, the White House dismissed the unflattering portrait of the president as nothing more than partisan politics working to deride a ‘savvy and effective’ Biden. 

Earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Hur raised further concerns about Biden’s mental acuity within a report detailing Biden’s handling of classified documents after his time as vice president in the Obama administration.

Hur announced in February that he would not recommend criminal charges against Biden for possessing classified materials after leaving government service, describing the 81-year-old Biden as ‘a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.’

‘Based on our direct interactions with and observations of him, he is someone from whom many jurors will want to identify reasonable doubt,’ Hur wrote in his report. ‘It would be difficult to convince a jury that they should convict him — by then a former president well into his eighties — of a serious felony that requires a mental state of willfulness.’

The findings sparked widespread outrage that Biden had been effectively deemed too cognitively impaired to be charged with a crime yet was still serving as president.

The report has been repeatedly cited by critics and the media amid a string of gaffes and missed cues from Biden in recent weeks. 

Those include: former President Obama taking Biden’s wrist to seemingly lead him offstage at a fundraiser in Los Angeles this month; Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni directing Biden back to a gaggle of world leaders in Italy this month after he took a few steps away from the group to give a thumbs up to a parachutist; and viral video showing the president standing relatively motionless during a Juneteenth concert event at the White House. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last week addressed the recent videos of Biden ‘freezing’ at public events, describing the footage as ‘disinformation’ promoted by ‘right-wing critics.’

‘They are cheap fakes. … They are done in bad faith. And some of your news organizations have been very clear, have stressed that these right-wing … critics of the president have a credibility problem because the fact-checkers have repeatedly caught them pushing misinformation, disinformation,’ she said.

Fox News Digital reported earlier this week that after Biden’s cloistered campaign strategy during the 2020 election cycle — which earned him the nickname ‘Basement Joe’ from Trump — Biden has delivered just three campaign rally speeches this year lasting longer than 30 minutes. 

Biden spoke for more than 30 minutes on just three occasions during his 11 rallies in 2024. Fox News Digital defines rallies in this instance as campaign events during which Biden took the stage alone, stood in front of a podium and was joined by cheering supporters, as opposed to intimate campaign stops, fundraising events or the brief remarks he has made while carrying out his duties as president.

In addition, data compiled by Fox News shows Biden, in his official capacity as president, has held 36 news conferences as of June 2024, with the interactions lasting an average of 33 minutes. During the same time periods for their administrations, Trump held 60 news conferences and Obama held 74.

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