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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says ‘it wouldn’t hurt’ for Biden to take cognitive test

By Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, CNN

(CNN) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Wednesday “it wouldn’t hurt” for President Joe Biden to take a cognitive test, a move that could quell mounting concerns over his mental fitness following a poor debate performance in June.

“I don’t think that it would hurt,” the Democrat said after being pressed by CNN’s Abby Phillip on whether Biden should take a test and demand that former President Donald Trump do the same.

While Whitmer acknowledged on “NewsNight” that the debate was “not a great success” for Biden, she pushed back on calls for the president to step aside from his 2024 campaign.

“He shows up every day and fights for the American public. He cares about other people more than he cares about himself, and that’s precisely why I think this moment where we have Donald Trump, who’s been convicted of 34 felonies, who cares only about Donald Trump, we can’t lose sight of how high these stakes are,” the governor said. “We have a field, and unless one person, Joe Biden, makes an alternative decision, this is the field, and we’ve got to go.”

In a high stakes interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos last Friday, Biden said that his poor debate performance was not evidence of a serious condition. Being president, he said, means “I get a full neurological test every day.”

When asked on Friday whether he’s had cognitive tests and an exam by a neurologist, Biden said no.

“No one said I had to. … They said I’m good,” the president said.

Biden gave no indication he would be willing to have such tests conducted in the aftermath of his debate performance.

Whitmer’s comments come as Democrats wrestle with the potential for Biden’s reelection bid to hurt the party in down-ballot races this fall. Nine House Democrats have called for the president to step aside, and Vermont’s Peter Welch on Wednesday evening became the first Senate Democrat to urge him to withdraw.

Whitmer, who has been floated as a possible candidate to enter the race should Biden step aside, was present at a meeting Biden held last week with Democratic governors but did not address members of the press immediately after. On Wednesday, she backed the president and said she was concerned that “we are spending a lot of energy not on Donald Trump and the existential threat before us, and that gives me a great deal of concern.”

“I understand that some are playing fantasy football and want to just pick a couple of random leaders that they like across the country and design a ticket. That’s just not how this works,” she said Wednesday. “We have a president who’s gotten a nomination, who’s earned it.”

When asked if she was worried that she would be targeted for retribution should Trump win, Whitmer said that she has been told that he keeps a list with both Republicans and “probably a lot of Democrats on it too.”

“I think that that should tell you everything you need to know about this man,” she said.

Whitmer pointed towards the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that granted presidents in general a definitive “absolute immunity” from prosecution for core official acts.

“I think everyone who is critical or has a mind of their own should be concerned about someone who is willing to abuse power and misuse it, especially with this new Supreme Court ruling on immunity, this could be a very scary time if Donald Trump is back in the White House,” she said.

CNN’s Jen Christensen, Jack Forrest and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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