Joe Biden made his first public appearance in more than a week on Friday, but it was quickly overshadowed by the former vice president’s propensity for gaffes.
The 76-year-old Biden, who had been on vacation resting since Sunday, appeared at a fundraiser in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The event was Biden’s first since retreating from the public eye after a series of high-profile gaffes not only consumed his campaign last week, but also renewed doubts about his fitness for office.
Instead of allaying the mounting concerns about his candidacy, Biden added to them on Friday when addressing donors in Delaware. While discussing a recent speech in which he accused President Donald Trump of fanning “the flames of white supremacy,” Biden mistakenly claimed it took place in Burlington, Vermont, rather than Burlington, Iowa.
Even though the former vice president quickly corrected his mistake, the gaffe underscored all of the problems plaguing his campaign in recent days.
Biden’s troubles began innocently enough during a campaign swing through Iowa. During a stump speech at the Iowa State Fair, Biden confusingly told voters that “we choose truth over facts.”
“Everybody knows who Donald Trump is. Even his supporters know who he is. We got to let him know who we are. We choose unity over division,” he said towards the end of his stump speech. “We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.”
As Breitbart News reported, the comment was likely the result of Biden flubbing an applause line he frequently uses on the trail: “we have to choose hope over fear, unity over division and, maybe most importantly, truth over lies.”
Those in the audience, many of whom were likely getting their first opportunity to see Biden in person, were not clued into that context, however. As such many quickly took to social media to mock the former vice president’s most recent blunder.
Biden’s gaffes only increased as the day drew to a close. Speaking to the Asian and Latino Coalition of Des Moines, Iowa, later that evening, Biden confused the name of recently ousted British prime minister, Theresa May, with the late-Margaret Thatcher – who left office in 1990.
“Words that stunned the nation, and I would argue – I know – shocked the world. International leaders spoke about it,” Biden said when falsely alleging Trump praised the neo-Nazis that marched on Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 as “very fine people.”
“You had people like Margaret Thatch… excuse me,” Biden said catching himself. “You had people like the former chairman and the leader of the party in Germany. You had Angela Merkel stand up and say how terrible it was. International leaders looked at us like, ‘what in God’s name is happening to the United States of America?’”
That gaffe, although prominent, was quickly eclipsed by an even larger blunder Biden only moments later. While discussing his plans to reform education, the former vice president claimed “poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
“We should challenge these students, we should challenge students in these schools to have advanced placement programs in these schools,” Biden said. “We have this notion that somehow if you’re poor you cannot do it. Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.”
Not to be outdone, however, Biden continued to make confusing and often times perplexing statements during his Iowa visit. Less than two days after his initial series of gaffes, Biden worried a group of reporters when he confused the date of a recent school shooting while discussing gun control.
“Those kids in Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president,” Biden said, before claiming that when the survivors visited Congress, lawmakers were “basically cowering, not wanting to see them. They did not want to face it on camera.”
Many pointed out that the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which resulted in 17 fatalities and over a dozen injuries, occurred on February 14, 2018, more than a year after Biden left office.
After that incident, Biden disappeared from the campaign trail – something he likewise did in June after coming under fire for flip-flopping on abortion – under the guise of taking a family vacation.
It appears, though, such efforts were in vain, especially given the candidate’s personality and idiosyncrasies beyond his control.
“I am a gaffe machine, but, my God, what a wonderful thing compared to a guy who can’t tell the truth,” Biden said last year.