2020: Joe Biden Makes at Least 7 Gaffes at His Second Debate

Democratic presidential hopefuls (fromL) US Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker, US Senator from California Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden take the stage ahead of the second round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre …
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden added to his long list of gaffes at Wednesday evening’s Democrat presidential primary debate in Detroit, botching everything from the price tag of his opponents’ health care plans to his own closing statement.

Here are seven moments where Biden — now 76-years-old — misspoke, lost his train of thought, or blurted out actual nonsense during the late-night debate.

1.) Biden tells Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) ahead of the debate: “Go easy on me, kid.”

While it may have been his intended word choice, the disrespect to a sitting senator started his debate performance on the wrong foot and distracted from whatever positive message he may have offered. The hot-mic moment was further undermined when Biden went negative on Harris without provocation.

2.) Biden misstates the cost of Harris’s health care plan.  

On the topic of health care, Biden stated the California Democrat’s “Medicare for All” proposal would cost a staggering $30 trillion — but he first mistakenly pegged its price tag at only $3 trillion. The 2020 frontrunner later repeated the $30 trillion figure, claiming Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “acknowledges it,” asserting “Thirty trillion dollars has to ultimately be paid.” An analysis estimates Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan would cost the federal government $32.6 trillion over a decade, rendering Biden’s $3 trillion wildly inaccurate. Biden also grossly understated the Obama administration’s 10-year stimulus package of roughly $800 billion, saying it was $87 billion.

3.) Biden loses his train of thought on health care. 

“We immediately are able to cover everybody who wants to get off of their insurance plan they don’t like, no matter what one it is, and buy into a Medicare option,” Biden said. “And they can buy the gold plan, and they’re not going to have to pay.” At this moment, rather than complete his explanation of his plan, he offered a verbal pause — “anyway” — and trailed off.

4.) Calls Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) “the future president.”

During a contentious exchange on crime legislation, Biden inadvertently predicted a Booker victory in 2020 before correcting himself, saying: “The fact is that the bills that the president, excuse me, the future president, that the senator is talking about are bills that were passed years ago and they were passed overwhelmingly.” Biden still appeared to have trouble with his words coming out of the gaffe, which drew a big laugh. His continued statement had several awkward phrases: “[The bills] that the senator is talking about are bills that were passed years ago and they were passed overwhelmingly. Since 2007, I, for example, tried to get the crack-powder-cocaine totally — disparity totally eliminated” (emphasis added).

5.) Appears to have misunderstood question about coal. 

CNN debate moderator Dana Bash asked Biden to clarify his comments on coal, fossil fuels, and fracking. She asks him about the continued existence of those industries, and he appears to agree –but then limits the scope of his answer to subsidies.

DANA BASH: thank you, vice president. just to clarify, would there be any place for fossil fuels including coal and fracking in a biden administration?

JOE BIDEN: No. We would work it out. We would make sure it’s eliminated, and no more subsidies for either one of those, any fossil fuel.

Biden’s climate change policy makes no mention of eliminating coal as a resource, though it calls for helping coal industry-dependent communities transition to other jobs.

6.) Calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the “TTP.”

Biden said he opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement headed up by Obama administration, saying: “I would not rejoin the TTP [sic] as it was initially put forward. I would insist that we renegotiate pieces of that with the Pacific nations… so that we could bring them together to hold China accountable.”

7.) Joe’s botched closing statement goes viral.

Biden made the debate’s biggest gaffe by screwing up the contact information for his campaign’s text message service.

“If you agree with me, Go to Joe 3-0-3-3-0, thank you very much,” Biden said. A cyber-squatter quickly purchased “joe30330.com” after the flub, directing the URL to an unrelated page. Biden also messed by arguing that the United States can not handle another “eight years” of a Trump presidency. Trump can only serve for five more years after 2019.

Ezra Dulis contributed to this report. 

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