President Biden shrugged off his plummeting poll numbers by saying that’s not why he ran for president and spoke extensively about his meeting with Pope Francis, referring to the pontiff as a “truly genuine decent man” at a news conference Sunday following the G20 summit in Rome.
Biden was asked about his comments claiming that America is back even as his favorability ratings are crashing, his legislative agenda is stalled in Congress and the tight gubernatorial race in Virginia between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.
“Because of the way they reacted,” Biden said on the final day of the meeting of leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies.
“They listened to everyone, sought me out. They wanted to know what our views were. And we helped lead what happened here,” he said at the news conference that started about 50 minutes late. “The United States of America is the most critical part of this entire agenda.”
“By the way, look, the polls are going to go up and down, and up and down. They were higher early. Then they got medium. Then back up and now they’re low,” he continued.
“Look at every other president. The same thing has happened, but that’s not why I ran. I didn’t run to determine how well I’m going to do in the polls,” he said, adding that he ran to help American workers get better pay and good jobs, to fight climate change and to help solve the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
While he referred to his notes during the news conference and called on reporters in order and by name, his most extensive and unscripted comments came when he was asked about Pope Francis calling him a “good Catholic” despite his support for abortion rights.
“This is a man who has a great empathy — he is a man who understands that part of his Christianity is to reach out and to forgive,” Biden said. “And so, I just find my relationship with him one that I personally take great solace in — he is a really, truly genuine decent man.”
He didn’t address the question about the split in the Catholic Church in which some bishops questioned whether Biden should continue to receive communion despite his stand on abortion.
The president spoke about his and his family’s relationship with Pope Francis following the death of his son, Beau Biden, in May 2015 of brain cancer.
“When I lost a real part of my soul—when I lost my Beau, my son,” the president said, remarking that the pope counseled him.
When Francis visited the US later that year in September, he met with the Biden family in an airport hangar in Philadelphia.
“And he came in and he talked to my family for a considerable amount of time – 10, 15 minutes about my son Beau,” Biden remembered, stopping occasionally. “And he didn’t just generically talk about him, he knew about him, he knew what he did, he knew who he was, he knew where he went to school. He knew what a man he was, and it had such a cathartic impact on his children and my wife and our family.”
He said the pope “is everything I learned about Catholicism, from the time I was a kid going from grade school through high school.”
Biden, who received communion at St. Patrick’s Church after meeting with the pope last Friday, said he didn’t want to talk too much about his relationship with the pontiff.
“I’m not going to lie, this is just personal. I don’t want to talk more about it, because so much of it is personal,” Biden said.