Anderson Cooper Challenges Ex-Biden Advisor After Political Analyst Says ‘Cognitive Decline’ Present For One Year


Julianna Frieman Contributor
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CNN host Anderson Cooper challenged former Biden 2020 Senior Campaign Advisor Ashley Etienne on Monday evening after a journalist said the president’s cognitive decline has been present for more than one year.

CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein told Cooper several people “very close” to Biden are “adamant” that the Democratic president’s “horror show” debate performance was “not a one-off.”

“There have been 15, 20 occasions in the last year and a half when the president has appeared somewhat as he did in that horror show that we witnessed. And what’s so significant is the people that this is coming from, and also how many people around the president are aware of such incidences,” Bernstein told the CNN host.

Bernstein described an incident at a fundraiser in June 2023 when Biden “became very stiff” at the podium. He said a chair had to be brought to Biden as he completed his remarks.

“He started at the podium, and then he became very stiff, according to people there, as if it was almost a kind of rigor mortis,” Bernstein said.

After his discussion with Bernstein, Cooper brought in CNN panelists including CNN Senior Political Commentator David Axelrod, former Republican Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Etienne, who also previously served as Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director. (RELATED: ‘Where The Hell Is It?’: Jill Biden’s Fmr Press Sec Rages At Ex-Biden Official For ‘Gaslighting’ Supporters, Media)

Axelrod told Cooper that Biden’s debate performance “confirmed people’s fears,” citing a Sunday CBS poll showing only 27% of respondents believe Biden is “fit to serve.” Walker advised presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump not to “draw attention” to Biden’s cognitive decline because “the American people can see” Biden’s cognitive decline “with their own eyes.” Etienne had a different take on Biden, prompting Cooper to push back.

“Do, uh, Ashley, I mean, you worked on Biden’s 2020 campaign. You worked in communications for Vice President Harris. The difference between Biden in 2020 debates and this last one is obvious. How can the president reassure people who watched him with pain and fear on that debate stage?” Copper asked.

“I mean, I think he actually did it on Friday. I think he actually doubled down on it tonight,” Etienne said. “But here’s the—”

“But those are teleprompters,” Cooper interjected.

“Uh, no, absolutely they are. But he still looks strong, and with it even on those teleprompters. And, you know, there are times at which many elected officials, even former President Trump has not looked strong on a teleprompter. But here’s the thing that I think, that is, uh, that’s being lost. And I’d like to go back to what Axe said. And that is, Trump also reinforced the negatives about him. He had none of the challenges that Joe Biden did, but still also underperformed.”

Biden read a campaign speech from a teleprompter in Raleigh, North Carolina on Friday, during which he appeared more alert than at the previous night’s debate. The president also appeared Monday night around 7:45 p.m. to deliver scripted remarks about the Supreme Court’s presidential immunity decision, speaking for roughly 5 minutes before turning away without taking questions.