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Harris noncommittal on whether Biden will debate Trump; is 'ready' to serve if necessary

Vice President Kamala Harris, in a post-State of the Union interview Friday with ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Mary Bruce, praised what she called President Joe Biden's "passionate" performance but was noncommittal on whether he will go on to debate rival Donald Trump.

"We'll get to that at some point and we'll deal with that," Harris said after initially sidestepping the question. "But the point is right now on this day after the State of the Union, I think the president laid down the facts for the American people in terms of what's at stake and I thought he did an extraordinary job."

Later, Biden, himself was asked directly as he left the White House for a campaign event if he would commit to debating Trump.

"It depends on his behavior," Biden replied.

MORE: Biden confronts Trump and age questions in speech-turned-rally State of the Union address: ANALYSIS

Trump has proposed a debate with Biden "anytime" as attention turns toward the general election after both men cruised through Super Tuesday races, all but guaranteeing a rematch in November. Notably, Trump skipped all Republican primary debates.

The Biden campaign also dodged questions on if Biden plans to go toe-to-toe with Trump, saying earlier this week it's a conversation for a different time in the cycle. The two men met on stage twice in 2020.

While Biden didn't call out Trump by name in his speech Thursday night, he took aim at his "predecessor" more than a dozen times --- slamming his record on the Russia-Ukraine war, abortion access and more.

PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris stands in the House of Representatives ahead of President Joe Biden's third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on March 7, 2024. (Shutterstock)
PHOTO: Vice President Kamala Harris stands in the House of Representatives ahead of President Joe Biden's third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on March 7, 2024. (Shutterstock)

The State of the Union address, a forceful presentation of the administration's record and vision for the nation, was also a critical moment for Biden to quell voter doubt about his fitness for a second term.

"What we saw is in President Biden somebody who is passionate who's principled and who's clear about not only what we have, as an administration, accomplished but where we are as a country and what's at stake," Harris said on Friday.

Biden sparred with Republicans in the crowd on multiple occasions, challenging them the most on their rejection of a bipartisan immigration and border security proposal. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. interrupted Biden at one point to call out Laken Riley, the 22-year-old nursing student was killed last month. The suspect charged in her murder is a Venezuelan migrant whom officials say was illegally in the U.S.

MORE: 'I believe in America': Fired-up Biden uses State of the Union to skewer GOP, his 'predecessor'

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 2024.  (Shawn Thew, Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the US Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 2024. (Shawn Thew, Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden used the term "illegal" to refer to Riley's suspected killer, prompting push back by some Democrats and immigration activists.

Asked if she was comfortable with his language, Harris called the moment a "chaotic scene" but said Biden was able to make an important point by expressing condolences to Riley's family as well as a willingness to work across the aisle on the issue.

"The Republican Party has apparently decided that instead of fixing the problem, they want to run on it," Harris told ABC News' Bruce. "And I think that's where we really have to think about what does leadership look like leadership is about fixing problems, and not taking political benefit and capital from a problem because you have nothing else to run on."

PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in Washington, Mar. 7, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in Washington, Mar. 7, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

As questions about Biden's age and stamina continue to be a concern for most Americans, Republicans have framed the election as not only about Biden but also about a potential President Harris.

"What do you say to voters who are sold on the president but may not be sold on you about this potential possibility?" Bruce asked the vice president.

"Well, first of all, I think what we saw in President Joe Biden is somebody who's prepared to take on a second term, and do it with passion and do it with vigor," she responded.

"And as it relates to, you know, the various tactics that our opponents are using, they're going to attack a myriad of issues," she continued. "But here's the bottom line, if necessary, which will not be the case, I am ready. But the bottom line is our president is full of vigor and passion and perspective to take on another term. And I'm standing right with him."

Harris noncommittal on whether Biden will debate Trump; is 'ready' to serve if necessary originally appeared on abcnews.go.com