In a rare interview, President Joe Biden has said Americans are “really, really down” as they grapple with soaring inflation after two years of a pandemic.
He told the Associated Press the “need for mental health in America has skyrocketed”.
Mr Biden said he wanted Americans to “be confident. Because I am confident.”
The president’s popularity has plunged as November elections loom that will decide which party controls Congress.
“People are really, really down,” Mr Biden told the news agency in a half-hour interview from the Oval Office on Thursday.
“They’re really down. Their need for mental health in America has skyrocketed because people have seen everything upset.
“Everything they counted on upset. But most of it’s a consequence of, of, of what’s happening, what happened is a consequence of the, the Covid crisis.
“People lost their jobs. People are out of their jobs. And then, were they going to get back to work? Schools were closed.”
Last month, inflation in the US hit 8.6% – one of the highest rates in the world.
During the interview, the AP said Mr Biden became defensive when asked about this issue.
“If it’s my fault,” he said, “why is it the case in every other major industrial country in the world that inflation is higher? You ask yourself that? I’m not being a wise guy.”
A Fox News reporter challenged the White House press secretary about this claim on Thursday, pointing out that inflation is currently lower in other top economies such as Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and India.
AP: So you’re talking about a country that has undergone profound psychological trauma.
AP: What can you as a president do to address that psychology …
BIDEN: Be confident.
AP: … to make people feel more optimistic. Be confident?
BIDEN: Be confident. Be confident. Because I am confident. We are better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century. That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.
Now I don’t know about you dear reader, but personally I see it my duty as a patriotic American to responsibly prepare to own my bit of the second quarter of the 21st century. And that, needless to say, is not hyperbole. That’s a fact.