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

CNN host Anderson Cooper took issue with Ashley Etienne, a senior adviser to President Biden's 2020 presidential campaign, on Monday night after a journalist said the president's cognitive decline has been ongoing for over a year.

CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein told Cooper that multiple people “very close” to Biden are “categorically” certain that his “horror show” performance at the Democratic presidential debate “was not a one-off.”

“There have been 15, 20 occasions over the last year and a half where the president has made remarks similar to the horror show that we just witnessed, and the question is, who is making these statements and how many people around the president are aware of these events,” Bernstein told CNN.

Bernstein recounted an incident in June 2023 when Biden “became very stiff” at the podium at a fundraiser. He said Biden's chair had to be carried away by the time he finished his speech.

“He stood at the podium and, according to people who were there, it looked like he went into rigor mortis and then became very stiff,” Bernstein said.

After his discussion with Bernstein, Cooper hosted a panel of CNN panelists, including CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod, former Republican lieutenant governor of Georgia Geoff Duncan, former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and Etienne, who also served as former communications director for Vice President Kamala Harris. (RELATED: “Where the hell are they?”: Jill Biden's former press secretary lashes out at ex-Biden associates for “gaslighting” supporters, media)

Axelrod told Cooper that Biden's debate performance “confirms people's concerns.” He cited a Sunday CBS poll that found only 27% of respondents thought Biden was “fit to be president.” Walker advised presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to “not draw attention to” Biden's declining cognitive abilities because “the American people can see it with their own eyes.” Etienne has a different view of Biden, and Cooper fired back.

“Ashley, you worked on Biden's 2020 campaign and served as communications director for VP Harris. The difference between Biden in the 2020 debate and this one is clear. How can the President reassure people who watched him in pain and fear on that stage?” Copper asked.

“I mean, I think he really did that on Friday, and I think he really doubled down on that tonight,” Etienne said. “But here we go…”

“But it's a teleprompter,” Cooper interjected.

“Yeah, absolutely. But he still looks strong, and he does on a teleprompter. And, you know, a lot of elected officials, even former President Trump, can look strong on a teleprompter. But I think that's lost. And I want to go back to what Axe said, which is that Trump also highlighted his own negative aspects. He didn't have any of the challenges that Joe Biden faced, but he still fell short of expectations.”

Biden read his campaign speech via teleprompter. RaleighAt Friday's debate in North Carolina, the president appeared more nervous than he had been at the previous night's debate. He also appeared again on Monday night at about 7:45 p.m., delivering scripted remarks about the Supreme Court's decision to grant presidential immunity. He spoke for about five minutes and then walked out without answering any questions.

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