Takeaways from President Biden’s interview with Judy Woodruff

In an exclusive interview a day after the 2023 State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said that unless Republicans “break their word, there’s going to be no cuts in Medicare or Social Security,” and argued for bipartisanship to accomplish more for the American people.

WATCH: ‘We all apparently agree’ on saving Medicare and Social Security, Biden teases during State of the Union

Talking with PBS NewsHour special correspondent Judy Woodruff on Wednesday, Biden referred to an animated exchange during his address when he said that some congressional Republicans had proposed cuts to the American social safety net, drawing yells of “No!”

“So guess what?” Biden told Woodruff, “We accomplished something.”

The interview is part of Woodruff’s new special reporting series, “America at a Crossroads,” which will examine American divisions and explore what might help reunite the nation. The former NewsHour anchor and managing editor asked Biden why he thinks the country is so divided politically. He spoke to Woodruff from DeForest, Wisconsin, at a Laborers’ International Union of North America training center.

“Most Americans are of the view that [politics have] just gotten too mean; it’s gotten too personal, gotten too divisive,” he added. “And I think one of the messages they sent this last election was: ‘Come on. Work together. Get something done for us.’”


Biden said he still anticipates contention with some Republicans, specifically those who have stuck by former President Donald Trump, to whom he attributed much of the nation’s division — though he never mentioned the former president by name.

“There was a deliberate effort by the last guy to play on people’s fears and to appeal to base instincts,” Biden said.

Here are some other key takeaways from Woodruff’s interview with Biden:

On the discovery of classified documents at his personal residences and offices:

  • Biden said he’s invited searches of his home and offices, and that the documents were there because the people who cleaned up his offices when he left didn’t thoroughly examine every piece of paper. “And to the best of my knowledge, the kinds of things they picked up were things that were from 1974 and stray papers,” Biden said.

On U.S.-China relations:

  • Biden was adamant that relations between the two superpowers have not taken a hit after the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon, and amid reports that the Chinese felt the U.S. president had smeared them in his State of the Union. When Woodruff pressed him on how he could be so sure, he said talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also said that he had made clear to Xi before the incident that the U.S. is “not looking for conflict.”

On whether his age will prevent him from running for a second term:

  • Though he has not officially announced whether he will run again, some have raised concerns about the fact that Biden will be 82 when the next presidential election takes place. “Watch me. That’s all I can say,” Biden told Woodruff, confirming that he thinks he intends to make another bid for the White House. Biden added that he “would be completely, thoroughly honest with the American people if I thought there was any health problem — anything — that would keep me from being able to do the job.”