Ryan says Biden is 'declining'

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers call for universal basic income amid coronavirus crisis Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' MORE (D-Ohio) told reporters he doesn't believe the "declining" could to defeat President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE in a general election.

The Ohio Democrat and 2020 candidate for president referenced Biden's string of recent gaffes on the campaign trail, calling it evidence that Biden didn't have the "energy" for a general election fight, Bloomberg News reported. 

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“I just think Biden is declining,” Ryan told Bloomberg. “I don’t think he has the energy. You see it almost daily. And I love the guy.”

Biden's campaign did not immediately return requests for comments on the remarks from The Hill on Saturday. A family friend of Ryan's characterized the remarks to The Hill as Ryan "clearly projecting in the moment" and said that Ryan was committed to seeing a Democrat win the White House in 2020.

“Tim, who was clearly projecting in the moment (given how grey his hair has become), has nothing but love and admiration for the Vice President and his public service to our country. We all make gaffes, but what the American people truly care about in this race is lifting up our country for hardworking families and protection from our biggest threats, both domestic and international. No matter who our candidate is, we gotta undo all the damage this incompetent President has done since taking office," said Erick Sanchez.

Ryan reportedly told Bloomberg following the interview that he did not initially understand that he was talking to a reporter when making the remarks.

Ryan, who is polling in low single-digits among the crowded Democratic primary field, also told Bloomberg in the interview that "a lot of people" were upset with the higher entry requirements for next week's debate in Texas, for which Ryan failed to qualify.

“A lot of people think it’s bulls**t that they’re limiting,” the Ohio congressman said. “You have to have some level of criteria but it’s September and they’re winnowing the field.”

Biden has faced criticism in the news media in recent days for apparent verbal slip-ups on the campaign trail, including mixing up New Hampshire and Vermont during a campaign stop in the former state and misstating his record of support for the Iraq War.

Former Obama campaign adviser David AxelrodDavid AxelrodTrump seeks to sell public on his coronavirus response Polls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the APTA - Biden looks for Super Tuesday surge; coronavirus fears heighten MORE hammered Biden on Twitter Friday over the misstatements, warning that Biden risked damaging his reputation.

"It’s one thing to have a well-earned rep for goofy, harmless gaffes. It’s another if you serially distort your own record. @JoeBiden is in danger of creating a more damaging meme," Axelrod tweeted Friday.