Gov. Green says Biden was ‘sick and exhausted’ before debate

Gov. Josh Green said he came away from a conference call Wednesday with President Joe Biden and other Democratic governors feeling like the president was a “different individual” from the one in the distressing performance during the 2024 election debate.

Green said that during the call Biden presented himself as a “healthy gentleman sharing ideas at the highest level.”


As a physician, Green said he is constantly observing people to assess their strength, weakness, and overall health and his observation is that Biden was sick and exhausted after traveling before last Thursday’s debate against former President Donald Trump.

“The president had difficulties with exhaustion,” Green said. Biden has said his trip to France two weeks before the debate and another back to Europe for the Group of 7 summit in Italy were factors in his poor performance.

During the call with governors, Biden reaffirmed his commitment to remain in the presidential race.

During the debate, the 81-year-old incumbent exhibited a hoarse and subdued vocal tone, frequently stuttering and mumbling. He also experienced moments where he drifted off-topic and made derisive remarks directed at Trump.

Green said during the call, Biden acknowledged not performing at his best, but expressed “how badly he wanted to lead the country.”

“We’re just honored to hear from him and see him,” Green said. “I specifically asked the president how he was after he had a tough day during the debate with the former president. He had been exhausted from two trips overseas, and there are no excuses, but he was in fine form today.”

Green said there was no discussion during the conference call on alternate candidates. Rumors circulating on social media suggest that Vice President Kamala Harris plans to run for president, bolstered by growing support among Democrats.

“He ran, he said that right from the get-go,” Green said. “That was the first thing the president shared with us — that he will stay on the ticket.”

Green said he had met with the Democratic governors Tuesday and they decided it was important to request time with Biden, and a special emergency meeting was scheduled for Wednesday.

Biden discussed his views and values with the governors and expressed his regret at not expressing his strong support of women’s rights — especially reproductive rights — during the debate, according to Green.

“It’s important that everyone look at the distinction between individuals, and this is a very serious moment in our history. When we talk about behavioral health and personalities, these are actual, telling and signature parts of a candidate. So I hope everyone will look at those things. It’s important.”

The governor added, “I’ve been concerned that the former president, President Trump, has some personality traits that are diagnosable.”

Green expressed his fondness for Biden, especially after receiving his support during the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires.

“When the wildfire occurred, the president, within six hours, approved our major disaster declaration. No one’s ever seen action that quick,” he said. “And to walk through Lahaina together with the president, first lady, and Jamie (Green, Hawaii’s first lady) is something I’ll never forget.”

Green also mentioned that Biden personally greeted over 300 people displaced by the wildfires.

Beyond supporting Maui, Green said the Biden administration has also created more opportunities to assist the state, particularly in areas such as infrastructure, housing and addressing Red Hill issues.

On Wednesday, the state also received over $6.6 million in federal funding for developing more affordable housing. Additionally, Biden’s infrastructure bill allocated funds for road repairs and infrastructure improvements, including bridges and dams.

Green also emphasized his insistence for the administration to collaborate in expediting the draining of fuel from the Navy’s Red Hill facility. Biden had instructed the Navy to proceed, resulting in the project being six months ahead of schedule.

“That’s the president that I know, but I leave it to the people of our state and the country to make their determination,” Green said.

None of Hawaii’s four Congressional delegation members responded to requests for comment regarding Biden’s candidacy. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz attended Wednesday’s news conference at the state Capitol on increased federal funding for Hawaii housing, but his office indicated he had no comment on Biden.

“It is not for me to decide for the country or even the state, who people should support, but they should be clear-eyed when they do make that choice,” Green said.

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