Biden to skip traditional Super Bowl interview for second year

U.S. President Biden delivers remarks at the House Democratic Caucus Issues Conference in Leesburg
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WILMINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden will skip the traditional pre-game interview with the CBS television network before Sunday's Super Bowl, which is expected to become the most-watched American football game ever.

It is the second year in a row that Biden has opted out of the interview.

White House officials told reporters earlier this week they made the decision because Super Bowl viewers wanted to watch football, not the president. On Saturday, a White House official said Biden turned down the interview because CBS would have aired just a brief clip on Sunday, instead of a fuller extended version.

This year's Super Bowl clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers is expected to shatter viewership records in the U.S. Tickets are on track to be the most expensive ever amid feverish excitement that pop star Taylor Swift may attend to support boyfriend Travis Kelce, the Kansas City Chiefs tight end.

A record 200.5 million adults in the U.S. are planning to watch Super Bowl this year, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Former President George W. Bush began the tradition of an interview around the Super Bowl, appearing with CBS lead commentator Jim Nantz in 2004 for a light series of questions, mostly about the game. "I think it's going to be a very close contest, but what the heck do I know? I'm just the president," Bush said.

Biden is bypassing the high-profile interview as his approval ratings linger below 40%, Democratic allies say Americans don't hear enough about his achievements, and a report released this week raises questions about his fitness for a second term in the White House.

The special counsel report written by a Republican prosecutor, Robert Hur, described Biden as an "elderly man with a poor memory," prompting a rebuke from the president, who said his "memory is fine." The White House on Friday criticized the report as divorced from reality and Vice President Kamala Harris called it "clearly politically motivated."

The New York Times editorial board said Biden's decision to skip the Super Bowl interview was part of a pattern of "less substantive, unscripted interaction with the public and the press than any other president in recent memory."

Asked about Biden's decision to skip the Super Bowl, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said the president would "find many other ways to communicate with the ... millions of Americans out there," without offering specifics.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing Heather Timmons and Deepa Babington)