Mar 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden says Trump wouldn't concede next time: "Losers are never graceful"

headshot
President Biden talks with The New Yorker

Photo: Thea Traff for The New Yorker

President Biden, during a rare Oval Office interview, told the New Yorker's Evan Osnos that he doesn't think former President Trump will concede if he loses in November.

  • "Losers who are losers are never graceful," Biden says in the 14,000-word profile, "The Last Campaign," which the magazine posted Monday morning. "I just think that he'll do anything to try to win. If — and when — I win, I think he'll contest it. No matter what the result is."

Why it matters: This is personal. "Trump had not just tried to steal the presidency — he had tried to steal it from him," Osnos writes.

During the interview, Biden tossed a white note card on the Resolute Desk.

  • The card was filled with quotes by Trump: threatening "termination" of parts of the Constitution, talking of being a dictator on "Day 1," and describing immigrants as "poisoning the blood of our country."
  • "What the hell?!" Biden says. "If you and I had sat down 10 years ago and I said a president is going to say those things, you would have looked at me like: 'Biden, you've lost your senses.'"

Between the lines: Osnos interviewed Biden for epic profiles in 2014 and 2020 (with rare access during COVID). Those spawned a book about Biden that was published just before he won the presidency.

  • Osnos, who spent 40 minutes with Biden on Jan. 17, writes that POTUS "betrays no doubts" despite discouraging polls. He "projects a defiant belief in himself ... a conviction that borders on serenity."
  • Osnos asked Biden if there was ever a time when he considered not running again. "No," he replied. "I'm running again because I think two things: No. 1, I'm really proud of my record, and I want to keep it going. I'm optimistic about the future. ... And, secondly, I look out there, and I say: 'O.K., we're just — most of what I've done is just kicking in now.'"

"For decades," Osnos notes, "there was a lightness about Joe Biden — a springy, mischievous energy that was hard not to like":

"For better and worse, he is a more solemn figure now. His voice is thin and clotted, and his gestures have slowed, but, in our conversation, his mind seemed unchanged. He never bungled a name or a date."

The bottom line: Biden, who as vice president "took bristly pride in defying the political wisdom of younger advisers," once again has something to prove. He asked Osnos: "How many times did you and your colleagues write, 'The recession is coming next month'?"

Go deeper