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The Biden campaign drafted questions for the president’s interviews on a pair of Black radio shows

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CHAPIN, S.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden ‘s campaign provided lists of approved questions to two radio hosts who did the first interviews with him after his faltering debate performance, both hosts said on Saturday.

Biden’s Thursday appearances on Black radio shows in the critical states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were his first chances to show he could answer questions and discuss his record after a debate in which the 81-year-old repeatedly struggled to complete sentences and press his case against Republican Donald Trump.

Radio host Earl Ingram said Saturday that Biden aides reached out to him directly for his interview that aired Thursday and sent him a list of four questions in advance, about which there was no negotiation.

“They gave me the exact questions to ask,” Ingram, whose “The Earl Ingram Show” is broadcast statewide across 20 Wisconsin outlets, told The Associated Press. “There was no back and forth.”

But moving forward from the pair of radio interviews, the Biden campaign plans to refrain from offering suggested questions to hosts, according to a person familiar with the candidate’s interview booking process but not permitted to speak publicly about its operations.

But while the interviews were meant as part of an effort to restore faith in Biden’s ability not just to govern over the next four years but to successfully campaign, the revelation instead created questions about whether Biden was capable of performing in ad-hoc, unscripted moments following his disastrous debate performance.

Appearing with Ingram earlier on CNN, Andrea Lawful-Sanders — host of “The Source” on WURD in Philadelphia — said that she had received a list of eight questions, from which she approved four.

WURD said Sunday that the interview had been arranged and negotiated by Lawful-Sanders independently “without knowledge, consultation or collaboration with WURD management.”

“The interview featured pre-determined questions provided by the White House, which violates our practice of remaining an independent media outlet accountable to our listeners. As a result, Ms. Lawful-Sanders and WURD Radio have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately,” the station said in a statement.

A message seeking comment from Lawful-Sanders was not immediately returned Sunday.

The Biden campaign noted that it is common practice to suggest questions and said it did not make acceptance of the questions a prerequisite for the interviews themselves.

Lauren Hitt, spokesperson for the Biden campaign, said it is “not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer,” adding that the questions sent to both Ingram and Lawful-Sanders “were relevant to news of the day,” including Biden’s debate performance and “what he’d delivered for Black Americans.”

She also pointed to a Virginia TV station saying Trump’s campaign called off an interview after the debate after the station’s reporter refused to agree to conditions on his questions. The Trump campaign did not immediately return a message seeking comment on its interview practices or if such appearances had been canceled over subject matter.

Biden argued on Ingram’s show that much more than his own political future was in jeopardy, saying: “The stakes are really high. I know you know this. For democracy, for freedom … our economy, they’re all on the line.”

Ingram asked four questions in his 18-minute interview. He asked if Biden could “speak to some accomplishments that we may or may not be familiar with about your record, especially here in Wisconsin,” what was at stake for Black voters in the election, what Biden would say to people who believe their vote doesn’t matter, and if he could address his debate performance and a remark Trump made during the debate about people crossing the border and taking what he called “Black jobs.”

“I didn’t have a good debate. That’s 90 minutes on stage. Look at what I’ve done in 3.5 years,” Biden said in answering the last question before speaking for several minutes about Trump, the economy and veterans’ issues.

Since the interview with Biden, Ingram said all six phone lines for his weekday broadcast have been jammed with callers seeking to weigh in on whether Biden should quit the race, estimating that more than two-thirds want Biden to continue.

When asked about the set list of questions, Ingram — who has been in radio for 15 years and said he doesn’t consider himself a journalist — said that the notion of receiving a set list of questions for a guest gave him pause, but also presented a perhaps once-in-a-career opportunity.

“I probably would never have accepted, it but this was an opportunity to talk to the president of the United States,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP

By MEG KINNARD
Associated Press

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