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Biden jokes Taylor Swift endorsement is ‘classified’ in interview with late-night comic Seth Meyers

President Joe Biden that he hopes a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that would allow for remaining hostages to be released can take effect by early next week. Biden spoke after taping an appearance with talk show host Seth Meyers. (Feb. 26)

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NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden joked Monday that a potential 2024 endorsement by Taylor Swift is a “classified” matter as he made a rare media appearance to mark the 10th anniversary of “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

Biden’s arrival was nominally a surprise to the audience: He stepped on stage after the announced guest — comedian and actor Amy Poehler — noted that Biden had been a guest on Meyers’ first show when he was vice president. Poehler said she could get him to return, prompting Biden to enter to “Hail to the Chief.”

“It’s good to be back,” Biden told Meyers. “Why haven’t you invited me earlier?”

Going into this year’s presidential election, Biden is seeking additional ways to reach out to voters, having largely avoided White House press conferences and on-the-record sit-downs with text reporters. Biden also skipped the traditional pre-Super Bowl presidential interview.

Meyers quizzed Biden about a conspiracy theory spread among some conservatives on social media that Swift and Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce are part of an elaborate plot to help Democrats win the November election.

“I have you on the hotspot here,” Meyers asked. “Can you confirm or deny that there is an active conspiracy between you and Miss Swift?”

“Where are you getting this information, it’s classified,” Biden retorted, adding that Swift endorsed him for president in 2020. Meyers followed up to ask if she would endorse Biden again, prompting the president to laughingly add, “I told you it’s classified.”

Meyers also asked Biden what he thought of the “Dark Brandon” meme, which features Biden with lasers for eyes. Biden quipped, “I resent the hell out of it,” then donned a pair of his signature aviator sunglasses. The meme, which first surfaced in conservative circles, has been embraced by Biden’s campaign and supporters, and is a top driver of sales in his campaign merchandise.

Biden, at 81 the oldest-ever U.S. leader, also addressed concerns about his age, saying, “You got to take a look at the other guy, he’s about as old as I am, but he can’t remember his wife’s name.”

It was an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington last weekend, when the former president praised his wife Melania and also referenced “Mercedes” — Mercedes Schlapp, his former aide who helps run the group and was in the audience. Some on social media, as well as Meyers in his monologue, suggested that Trump had used the wrong name for his wife.

Biden added that what truly matters is “how old your ideas are” and proceeded to blast Trump and Republicans for supporting rolling back abortion access and other policies that have been “solid American positions” for decades.

The president also criticized Trump for praising those who participated in the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and for pledging to pardon those who assaulted police officers and tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

“That’s what happens in Eastern European countries,” Biden said. “That’s not what happens in America.”

Meyers has taken frequent jabs at Trump, and devoted much of his show before Biden’s appearance to criticizing the former president and Republicans over a controversial court ruling in Alabama that upended in vitro fertilization treatment in the state.

President Joe Biden eats ice cream at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in New York, as Seth Meyers watches. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joe Biden eats ice cream at Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in New York, as Seth Meyers watches. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

He also criticized some Democrats who have tried to inoculate Biden from any criticism, playing a clip of Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman saying those who criticize Biden might as well be supporting Trump.

“Criticizing or mocking our leaders is a healthy thing in a democracy,” Meyers said. “I mean, Joe Biden seems to be able to take a joke. We here at ‘Late Night’ make jokes about him all the time.”

During his first three years as president, Biden has given 33 news conferences, the fewest in that time span since Ronald Reagan, according to Martha Kumar, a Towson University professor emeritus and expert on presidents and the press. Biden has given just 86 interviews, significantly fewer than the 422 given by Barack Obama during his first three years.

After recording the interview, Biden stopped off for some mint chip ice cream from Van Leeuwen, with Meyers joining him and getting the honeycomb flavor. Earlier, he attended an event with donors at a midtown hotel.

Zeke is AP’s chief White House correspondent
Boak covers the White House and economic policy.