President Biden is increasingly showing flashes of rage, responding to reporters with angry outbursts and scathing retorts when he doesn’t like the questions.
The president is clearly angered by the likely midterm disaster for Democrats and is lashing out at reporters who challenge Mr Biden’s version of reality, political analysts surmise.
“Biden is watching the polls and he’s very scared of what’s to come. He expresses that frustration with people relaying his message,” said Robert Rowland, who teaches presidential rhetoric at the University of Kansas.
This week has been marked by particularly tense exchanges between Mr. Biden and the journalists. On Thursday, the president criticized several journalists who asked him about the issue of abortion and Democratic candidates who do not want to be seen with him on the campaign trail.
As Mr. Biden addressed the press at the White House, he was asked if there “should be any restrictions on abortion at all?”
“Yes, there should be,” Biden replied.
The reporter then continued, “What should they be?”
“It’s Roe versus Wade. Read it, man! You will be educated,” Biden countered.
Later in the day, Mr. Biden campaigned alongside Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. When a reporter asked Mr Biden why there hadn’t been many candidates campaigning with him, he abruptly cut her off.
“It’s not true! There were 15! insisted Mr. Biden.
Before storming off, he barked, “Count it, kid! Count! Very well!.”
These exchanges come after a particularly fierce back-and-forth on Wednesday with Peter Doocy of Fox News.
Mr. Doocy asked the president whether abortion or inflation were a higher priority for his administration.
“Everything is important! Unlike you, there isn’t just one thing. It crosses the board…domestic…ask me about foreign policy too. he said.
Earlier this year, Mr Biden called Mr Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch” when asked about inflation.
The White House declined to comment on the president’s abrupt exchanges.
Ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, which will determine control of the House and Senate, Mr. Biden has struggled with issues. His popularity rating remains stuck at 40%, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
A New York Times/Siena College poll showed likely voters are likely to vote Republican by a 49% to 45% margin. Independent women, who were expected to support Democrats, have moved strongly closer to Republicans over the past month, according to the same poll.
At the same time, gas prices are rising after several weeks of decline at the start of the fall. Inflation is still raging and the stock market has taken a beating. The Republican message that Democrats are soft on crime and ill-equipped to handle inflation has resonated with voters, polls show.
Republicans say Mr Biden’s troubles are growing, the press has stopped giving him the bratty treatment he received in his freshman year. It made him irritable, they say.
“It’s been a pretty bad week and a half for Joe Biden,” said Jimmy Keady, a Republican strategist. “The press was pretty nice to him and gave him a lot of assists. Now the press asks him questions and he’s not used to that.
Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist, did not deny that Mr Biden showed a short fuse with the press, but he attributed it to the stresses and challenges of a difficult midterm campaign entering the last line right.
“A lot of people, including the president who has a lot at stake here, get very passionate at the end of a campaign. That’s what happens here,” he said.
Clashes with journalists come up against the promise of transparency and respect for the press announced by former White House press secretary Jen Psaki during her first briefing. Ms Psaki, who left the White House in May, made the pledge in an attempt to contrast Mr Biden with his predecessor.
Former President Donald Trump was hostile to the press with angry rhetoric and labels of “enemy of the people” and “fake news”. He also angrily berated reporters, including yelling at a reporter who asked him in late November 2021 if he would concede the election to Mr Biden.
“Don’t talk to me that way,” Trump said. “You’re just a lightweight. Do not speak to me like that.
For Mr. Trump, tough talks with reporters were part of his personality as a tough political pugilist ready to stand up to media elites. The Trump base ate it, but the same behavior could backfire on the current president, Rowland said.
“Trump was playing on a narrative that reinforces his personality with his base,” Mr Rowland said. “Biden doesn’t do that. Biden is simply expressing his frustration with the political situation. He doesn’t help himself.
Mr. Bannon, however, said Mr. Biden’s fiery responses made him relatable.
“It shows that Joe Biden is a human being and that Americans love when presidents show passion. They get in trouble when they show no passion,” he said.